The Art of Movement: sport - politics - culture in the work of Zdeněk Němeček

5. 6.–31. 7. 2024
Opening: June 11th, 2024 at 6 pm

UM Gallery, UMPRUM, nám. Jana Palacha 80, Prague 1
Open, Mon-Sat, 10 am - 6 pm
free entry


Cycling, swimming, hockey - phases of movement depicting moments of human will and desire to win. Passion for sport and enthusiasm for the Olympic idea were characteristic of the sculptor Zdeněk Němeček. How do we perceive the message of his work today? The multimedia documentary exhibition at the UM Gallery offers a way to understand his artwork and its scope.

The Art of Movement: sport - politics - culture in the work of Zdeněk Němeček

The exhibition The Art of Movement: sport - politics - culture in the work of Zdeněk Němeček is part of Michaela Režová's doctoral research from the Animation and Film Studio. She first became interested in the sculptor thanks to her diploma work, and thanks to her short film Štvanice. In her own words, she became interested in "love of sport, a sense of its specific rhythm and an interest in the visual dimension of movement. All of this, including a passive attitude when it comes to the sport itself, connects her with sculptor Němeček".

Originally, she wanted to create an animated documentary and move Němeček's sculptures in it. As it turned out, an obstacle to realization was the current impossibility of production support by the State Cinematography Fund, argued by the problematic nature of the subject, which was Nemecko's affiliation with the Communist Party during the previous regime in Czechoslovakia. As a starting point, she chose the form of an exhibition. Together with Veronika Soukupová, the second curator of the project and a Ph.D. student at UMPRUM, they managed to broaden the limited view of the artist. Through the exhibition, they opened up a discussion and opened up the field of possible interpretations rather than offering a universal "true" view of the artist and his work. Here they take into account perceptions of art criticism or political commissions as well as ethics and humanity. "What is important is our own, team approach to the material, which we allow ourselves to shape to a certain extent in order to make new interpretations that are relevant to the present time and its demands. This authorial input can manifest itself in the accompanying projection, but also in minor manipulations of scale or perspective. We also wanted to preserve the lightness and joy associated with sport", says Veronika Soukupová, the second curator.

The exhibition The Art of Movement: sport - politics - culture in the work of Zdeněk Němeček offers a varied set of exhibits - phases of Němeček's sculptures, sketches, models and forms complemented by archival materials, video, animation, photographs, as well as newly created miniatures and copies of sculptures presenting the process of creating an animated film.

The designers of the exhibition design, which utilizes a minimalist embedded structure, are Magdalena Uhlířová and Adéla Vavříková from The inside of the structure recalls the space of the sculptor's studio and his work, while the outer perimeter points to the public discussion and reception of the works that are still taking shape today.

Crossing Borders is finalised through a digital platform, a printed publication and a rich accompanying programme. The range of themes offered by the programme extends from the application of sporting motifs in art, to the analysis of oral history relating to events and places historically linked to sport and culture, to the issue of relating to cultural heritage from the period of state socialism. Also key is the intersection of the whole project with the XXXIII Summer Olympics, which is taking place in Paris during the summer of 2024.

Although the exhibition is dedicated to an artist of the last century, it is still contemporary. Němeček's life and work, which was created under the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia, draws us into the current polemic about the meaning of sport, culture, politics and their intersection.


curators: Michaela Režová, Veronika Soukupová
production: Kamila Dohnalová, Šárka Váňová
exhibition design: Magdalena Uhlířová, and Adéla Vavříková (
graphic design: Josefina Karlíková, and Matěj Vojtuš
production of 3D prints and scans: Ondřej Slavík (Divize)
installation: Extended
Organizers: Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague, and The capital city of Prague
partners of the event: Czech Olympic Academy, Sport in Art, The Czech Center, Artmat, Otevřené ateliéry, studio Divize, and Prusa Research
archival videos: International Olympic Committee, and Česká televize
archival audio: Český rozhlas
archival photography: Czech Olympic Committee archive/Karel Novák, and the  Němeček family archive
Acknowledgements: Jiří Kejval, Richard Mrázek, Zdeněk Škoda, and Patrik Vacek