Aliens and Herons Now!
After the great experiments in the free-thinking era of the 1960s, during the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet army, monumental art suffered a creative crisis under the transformed and newly established state control. On the other hand, never in the history of our state were there so many sculpture competitions and never were public art projects so much in demand. The great number of commissions was guaranteed by a law which stated that every state building project (it was a building boom at the time) must secure one to four percent from the overall budget for “decoration”. However, this law was not an invention and an exclusive instrument of the dictatorship. In fact, it is in force in most of North American and West European cities.
Due to this law of the former regime the “four percent” art included aesthetic landmarks in public space around rising prefabs, health clinics, business centers, production factories, or administration and management buildings. The state thus secured lucrative work for academic sculptors, who in return were asked for loyalty to the regime and propaganda. Unlike in our times of numerous clients whose taste (or the lack of taste) the artist must follow, at that time, unfortunately, there was only a single commissioning client: the state, which controlled the expert selection committees. In spite of it, apart from the stereotypical and silly statues, the 1970s and 1980s saw the creation of great many very good sculptures that are today disappearing in hundreds!