Art historian, conservationist and pedagogue Jiří T. Kotalík died on Thursday at the age of 69 in Prague after an illness. This was stated by Tomáš Vaněk, Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts. Kotalík taught there for four decades and ran the school as rector from 1997 to 2003 and then again from 2010 to 2014.
Kotalík was mainly interested in the history of Czech architecture. He was an expert and at the same time an activist, a member of many associations and associations whose goal is to protect and promote cultural values.
Jiří T. Kotalík. | Photo: ČTK
Jiří T. Kotalík was born on February 14, 1951. His father was Jiří Kotalík, an art historian, a member of Group 42 and an expert on modern art, who ran the National Gallery in Prague from 1967 to 1990.
Jiří T. Kotalík inherited an interest in the history of fine arts from his father. He studied art history and history at the Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Brno and art history at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague, then worked at the Prague Center for State Monument Care and Nature Protection.
He began lecturing externally at the School of Architecture of the Academy of Fine Arts in 1980, and from January 1, 1984 he was an assistant at the Department of Art History.
In addition to teaching the history of art and architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kotalík drew attention to himself as a curator and organizer during normalization. In 1981 he helped organize the famous exhibition Malostranské dvorky. At that time, young artists installed their works directly in the courtyards of the Lesser Town in Prague. The ideologically unencumbered, playful conception of the event aroused unprecedented public interest.
At the same time, Kotalík worked to save the Cubist kiosk in Vrchlický sady near Prague’s main railway station. The small building, probably designed by Pavel Janák, was destined for demolition in 1980. Kotalík not only helped to save it administratively, but also to renovate it with a group of friends.
After 1989, Jiří T. Kotalík became fully involved in organizing cultural life. He was a member of the Scientific Board of the National Monuments Institute, the Council of the Minister of Culture for Science and Development or the Executive Committee of the ICOMOS National Committee.
In the 1990s, he helped re-establish the Mánes Association of Fine Artists and repeatedly chaired it. He became one of the curators of the extensive Ten Centuries of Architecture project. In 2003 and 2004 he was the director of the National Monuments Institute. Together with the architect David Vávra, he published the successful books Paintings from the History of Czech Architecture (2003) and Small Pearls of Czech Architecture (2012).
Kotalík’s enthusiasm for architecture was evidenced by his guided tours or excursions, which were famous and unforgettable for their participants. In 2018, Kotalík received the Josef Hlávka Medal for his life’s work and dissemination of the good name of Czech science.