Ján Abelovský, director of Soga, Slovakia's only fine art auction firm, laments that great works of art in his country find relatively few domestic buyers, despite the fact that Slovaks have a dear love for their national art heritage.
"Slovaks don't seem to be interested in the art market, even though every Slovak town has two or three antique shops and Slovakia has a great tradition of fine art and artists," he said. "Many Slovak houses are beautifully furnished, with furniture from the 19th and the early 20th centuries."
Many of these fine works will be up for sale at Soga's winter auction on December 2 at the Winter Garden of the Slovak National Museum (entrance from the Múzejka Café, located behind the museum). Abelovský said he hopes the auction will draw more Slovak buyers than the country's "five or six" main art collectors; foreigners, for all their interest in Slovak art, are forbidden by law from taking older Slovak works out of the country.
Bidders will pay an auction deposit of 500 Slovak crowns ($12) to have a chance to buy one of the 462 masterpieces on offer, including Slovak moderna paintings (1920-1940), secession works (an art style from the beginning of the century) decorative art like porcelain and furniture, as well as works by Picasso, Dali and Slovak contemporary artists. All pieces up for sale can be viewed by bidders from Saturday, November 27 till Wednesday, December 1, from 9:00 until 19:00.
The cheapest pieces on offer are expected to start at around 3,000 crowns ($71), while bidding on the most expensive - a 1946 painting by Slovak moderna figure Martin Benka - will begin at 350,000 crowns ($8,333).
The collection, which includes paintings, drawings, graphics and decorative pieces, is divided into nine sections, including Slovak print art, Slovak and Hungarian painters from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, Slovak moderna, Hungarian paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, Romantic works of Austrian and German painters (19th and 20th centuries) as well as European moderna like Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse, and others.
Other sections include Slovak post-1945 paintings, Czech art, and antiques ranging from decorative silver to furniture and porcelain. Slovak contemporary art is represented by names like Albín Brunovský, Vladimír Gažovič, Ondrej Zimka, Karol Kállay, Milan Laluha and Vladimír Kompánek.
Some of the money raised at the Soga auction from paintings by Slovak contemporary artists will go the League Against Cancer charity and the Slovak UNICEF Committee. For more information, contact Soga at Panská 4, Tel.: 07-54 43 54 81.