Efforts to save unique mosaic made by Czechia’s famous twin artists

Conservationists are attempting to save a large-scale mosaic created by the famous twin sisters Jitka and Květa Válová in the late 1970s. The artwork, believed to have been lost, was discovered some time ago in a building slated for demolition.

The identical twins Jitka and Květa Válová are widely considered one of the most distinctive Czech artists of the post-war generation. The sisters spent their whole life together, living and working in the industrial town of Kladno.

Jitka and Květa Válová | Photo: Dům Válovek

They mainly produced paintings and drawings, but they also created a couple of 3D objects, including a mosaic made of thousands of glass pieces.

It was commissioned for the former Research Institute of Automation in Prague’s Michle in 1976, says Magdalena Kracík Štorkánová, the founder and chairwoman of the Art & Craft MOZAIKA association:

“It was originally placed in an open space that served as a dining room. It is made of prefabricated Czech pressed glass from Železný Brod, which probably has to do with the fact that Jitka studied at the local glass school. Why they chose orchids for the dining room of a research institute, remains a mystery.

“What is also interesting is that the same orchids are depicted in their house and studio in Kladno, where the sisters spent their whole life and that now serves as a museum. Details of the mosaic appear in their bathroom. I think it was a trial for the actual piece.”

Photo: Magdalena Kracík Štorkánová

Although there are photographs depicting the sisters’ work on the mosaic, it was long believed to have been lost. That’s because several sources claimed the building in Michle had already undergone demolition. But a couple years ago, Štorkánová and her colleagues discovered it was still standing.

“We immediately headed there and asked at the reception whether there wasn’t a mosaic in the building by any chance.  And the receptionist led us through the hall to the very back of the ground floor and there it was and we were just amazed. It was in a room used by employees during breaks and it was almost covered up by shelves full of food and coffee.”

Photo: Magdalena Kracík Štorkánová

Since it was placed inside, the mosaic has been very well conserved. The only problem now is to find a new, suitable location for the artwork, says Ms. Štorkánová:

“We spoke to the owner of the building and found out that it was slated for demolition. So we contacted Marie Foltýnová from the City Gallery Prague and together we prepared a contract, which stipulates that it will be given to the gallery, which is now looking for a new space.”

The glass mosaic is not the only artwork by the Válová sisters decorating the building in Michle. The ceramic façade also features an artwork by Jitka Válová depicting punch cards. Hopefully, that piece will also be preserved.