Czech Action Art

Happenings, Actions, Events, Land Art, Body Art and Performance Art Behind the Iron Curtain

Pavlína Morganová

Czech Action Art

Pavlína Morganová

Distributed for Karolinum Press, Charles University

288 pages | 200 halftones | 5 x 8 | © 2014
Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9788024623177 Published June 2014 Not for sale in the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic
Czech action art—a medium similar to performance art that does not require an audience—emerged out of the political and social turmoil of the 1960s. This movement has received little critical attention, however, as the Iron Curtain prevented its dissemination to an international audience. Here theorist and art historian Pavlína Morganová gives this art scene its due, chronicling its inception and tracing its evolution through to the present.
Morganová explains the various forms of action art, from the “actions” and “happenings” of the 1960s; to the actions of land art that encompass stones, trees, water, or fire; to recent displays of body art; to the actions of the latest generation of artists, who are using the principles of action art in contemporary postconceptual and participative art. Along the way, she introduces the most prominent Czech artists of each specific niche, including Milan Knížák, Zorka Ságlová, Ivan Kafka, Petr Štembera, Karel Miler, Jirí Kovanda, and Katerina Šedá, and demonstrates not only the changes in the art forms themselves but also the shifting roles of artists and spectators after World War II.
With over one hundred illustrations, Czech Action Art introduces this heretofore overlooked but fascinating art form to a global readership.

List of Illustrations



Czech Action Art

The Artwork and Its Context – A Historical Framework

The Victory of the Idea over Matter – A Question of Documentation

Czech Performance Art from Futurism to the Present

1. A Breakthrough to the Everyday

Milan Knížák’s Aktual

Czech Collective Actions

2. A Return to Nature

A Transformed Landscape

Nature and the Body


3. An Experience of the Body

The Prague Body-Art Troika

Performance Art of the 1970s and 80s


Post-1989 Czech Action Art

List of Actions

Czech Action Art 1960-1989




Review Quotes
Amy Bryzgel, University of Aberdeen
“The fact that this pioneering study breaks new ground is just one of its many merits. Morganová presents a nuanced overview of the genre of action art and its particular manifestations in the Czech lands. Her analysis combines local and global art historical and sociopolitical contextualization.”
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