When in Bratislava…

YOU SIMPLY must see a small, so enriching ‘museum’, niched in the family house of a native 20th century artist who made his name and home half the world round, living and sculpting abroad for some 70 years. It is set in the picturesque courtyard of a two-storey Renaissance building at No. 6 Biela Street, on the end towards Františkánske Square right in the city centre, a few steps off Main Square, where three well-lit rooms on the balconied first floor display in a pleasant arrangement such varied selection of artworks as may hardly be expected of one single author, loaded there by his London foundation and other institutions.

Bratislava's Arthur Fleischmann Museum. Bratislava's Arthur Fleischmann Museum. (Source: Jana Liptáková)

YOU SIMPLY must see a small, so enriching ‘museum’, niched in the family house of a native 20th century artist who made his name and home half the world round, living and sculpting abroad for some 70 years. It is set in the picturesque courtyard of a two-storey Renaissance building at No. 6 Biela Street, on the end towards Františkánske Square right in the city centre, a few steps off Main Square, where three well-lit rooms on the balconied first floor display in a pleasant arrangement such varied selection of artworks as may hardly be expected of one single author, loaded there by his London foundation and other institutions.

Arthur Fleischmann (1896-1990) – also an M.D. by the way and a painter moreover – was truly cosmopolitan. His long professional career spanned six main countries across four continents after training with famous monumentalist Ján Štursa at the Academy in Prague and Josef Miller in Vienna, while he produced major external statuary and began showing in Bratislava, as in foreign lands where samples of his talent are now cherished.

Austria, Hungary, Poland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, the USA, South Africa, Zanzibar, Bali, Australia and ultimately England were the principal stops on his route. The unique collection of exhibits here in Bratislava presents some 50 items evoking these places, stretching from terra-cotta, ceramics, resin, bronze, aluminium, silver, marble, mosaic, to crystal, fibreglass and synthetic translucent materials in which he was a pioneer since the 1940s, as multi-coloured ‘perspex’ (trademark of Britain’s Imperial Chemical Industries, a plastics concern); a variety of mediums Fleischmann made use of with virtuosity in so diverse a range of genres as nudes, portraits and torsos, exotic compositions, religious figures, mythological and biblical subjects, transparent carvings, reliefs, panels of all sizes to abstract and kinetic objects; water sculptures, fountains, jewels…

A number of commissions were for ocean liners, several for public edifices, state libraries and official purposes such as a likeness of President Masaryk; others for private ownership as heads, busts or masks of world celebrities including actor Trevor Howard, contralto Kathleen Ferrier, four popes, and conductors Eugene Ormandy and Rafael Kubelík. His decorative themes featuring Balinese maidens, seasons, or mermaids and young tritons playing underwater within coral or else riding triumphantly on the waves astride seahorses or gigantic fish, are among the most charming motifs of Fleischmann’s bright, joyous, lively art.

In 1948 he settled permanently in London, spending the next 42 years there in untiring creativeness, constantly innovating. Besides personal and collective showings, he took part in the great international expositions of Brussels, Seattle and Osaka, achieving (at age 81) the huge Crystal Crown embossed for Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee in 1977, commemorating her 25 years on the throne. Aged 93 he was still imaginatively, inventively active in the last studio-house he had moved to – after Green Street, Mayfair, and St. John’s Wood – at Carlton Hill, where a memorial ‘Blue Plaque’ recalls his stay till the final departure. A British artist and Australian citizen of Slovak birth and Jewish-Catholic faith: talk about being ‘global’! Don’t miss a visit to the Arthur Fleischmann Museum.

The museum sits at Biela ulica 6 in downtown Bratislava. To visit the museum, call 02/ 5443 4742 or 02/3218 1335 or write to mmba@bratislava.sk.


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