For several years the unassuming address at Školská 28 has kept something hidden from street view: four separate but related art spaces: the Školská 28 and Fotograf Galleries, the ArtMap office, and Antonín Tomašek’s ceramics workshop.
Exhibition openings at either gallery were often synchronized, making gallery hopping as easy as crossing the courtyard. There was a sense of being tucked away from the city, close to its center but somehow apart, and going in through a short passage in the Neo-Renaissance building “U rytířů,” always felt like something of a discovery. Yet, as concise and cozy as this space has been, its tenure on the space comes to a close as some of the Školská 28 courtyard residents prepare to move out.
ArtMap has been run out of the same space as Antonín Tomašek’s ceramics workshop since 2011, and before that, for some time out of the Fotograf Gallery’s office. Yet upon hearing that Školská Gallery crew must translocate, ArtMap decided that the two would make the move together.
Since its founding in 2008 by the Hrůza brothers, Tomáš and Petr, ArtMap has given a welcome coherence and intelligibility to the barrage of exhibitions and openings, readings, performances, and other art “happenings.” Initially covering only Prague, ArtMap now provides an up-to-date art guide for the entire Czech Republic. While ArtMap’s Prague office was filled with every imaginable art publication of recent years, the cramped space fell short of passing for a bookstore, functioning more as a pick up point for publications ordered online. Yet according to Tomáš Hrůza, a real bookstore, similar to the one in the Moravian Gallery in Brno, has always been part of the plan. Noting ArtMap’s intention to move out with the Školská 28,Gallery, the Agosto Foundation stepped in, offering a solution with a new space and concept.
What has arisen out of the move for Školská 28 and ArtMap, along with the Agosto Foundation strategy for community and art support, is Prague’s first art bookstore, located in Prague 1, just around the corner from the National Theatre on Vojtěšská Street. From here, with the Agosto Foundation’s headquarters above, the soon-to-open ArtMap bookstore, as well as projects and exhibitions with a particular brand of sound, visual, and performance experimentation will be dreamed up, directed, and executed in various galleries and spaces around Prague alongside the Agosto Foundation’s other programs. In addition, the ArtMap bookstore’s entrance hallway will serve as a sound gallery. This space is now being considered by the sound artist and architect Ivan Palacký. The bookstore’s interior will also be out of the ordinary, with Vitsœ bookshelves provided by Agosto and designed by Dieter Rams, one of the top industrial designers of the 20th century.
The bookstore will also feature installations by both Czech and international artists, as well as a countertop and lighting designed and built especially for the ArtMap bookstore space by the Czech artist Petr Švolba, who was inspired by the idea of the bookstore itself, what such a space may mean for the Prague scene, and the people around it. Speaking of the concept behind the countertop, Švolba says he wanted to create something “simple, clean, and simultaneously joyful and a bit mystical,” resulting in “an almost purely wooden affair where the central element is birch.”
The ArtMap bookstore will be more than just a place to browse and buy books on art. It will also be a space for readings, book launches, intimate concerts, lectures and workshops for kids and adults. A new space for connections is taking form. Stay tuned for news on the ArtMap bookstore’s official opening, the first installation in its sound gallery and its involvement in Zažít město jinak 2016!