History

When well-known Swiss curator Harald Szeemann was preparing an exhibition for the 2004 biennial in Seville, the name of a completely unknown Czech photographer appeared on the list of participating artists: Miroslav Tichý. Szeemann was fascinated by Tichý’s original and incisive way of looking at the everyday world, as well as the obsession, to the exclusion of all else, with which Tichý focused on women and the female body in all its possible forms. Using primitive cameras that he built himself out of cardboard and simple lenses, Tichý managed to capture fleeting moments of life without any stylization or formal presuppositions. His unfocused, consciously blurred, and in this sense unprofessional photographs show a quality of emotion and subject matter found only in entirely unique and original works of international photography.

In presenting Tichý’s photographs, Szeemann expanded upon the many years of work by Czech-Swiss artist and psychiatrist Roman Buxbaum, who had discovered and purchased the photographic work of his neighbor and close acquaintance from the town of Kyjov, thus saving it from destruction. The exhibition in Seville launched the unexpected international success of Tichý’s photographs, culminating in exhibitions at the Kunsthaus Zürich (2005), the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2008), and the International Center of Photography in New York (2010). The numerous publications and monographs published in recent years in Europe and in America also testify to the widespread interest in Tichý’s work.

Roman Buxbaum placed a portion of his collection of Tichý’s works into the Tichy Ocean Foundation, which he established with the aim of preserving and promoting this Czech artist’s lifelong work. From here, some of Tichý’s works have found their way into private and public collections around the world. As for some of the remaining photographs and drawings, Buxbaum has been trading them for works by artists who are interested in Tichý’s work and are willing to provide their own art in return. This exchange project has received the descriptive name Artists for Tichy — Tichy for Artists. Thus the foundations were laid for a unique collection that has grown to include several hundred items. Besides photographs, the collection also contains works in many other media such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation. In order to understand Tichý’s popularity, it is important to realize that he has become something of an “artist’s artist”—i.e., an artist appreciated for his originality by artists from a variety of fields who not rarely come from antithetical artistic positions. The works acquired in this way are systematically transferred to the Tichý Ocean Foundation and are not for sale, but are made available to the public at exhibitions or other cultural activities.

Today, the Artists for Tichy — Tichy for Artists collection contains works by more than 100 international artists, some well known, some less so. Its aim is to continuously grow in size and expand its public exhibiting activities. To date, parts of the collection have been exhibited at the Moravian Gallery in Brno, East Bohemian Museum in Pardubice, Museum of Modern Art in Passau and finally at the expansive exhibition at the Central Bohemian Gallery (GASK) in 2013.