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Monika Škvarnová: Tinkers in the works of artists

The rifleman disc, 1840From May to the end of October 2005 there is an exhibition entitled Tinkers in the Works of Artists at the Považské Museum in Žilina showing the numbers, artistic variability and documentary value of works using the motifs of wandering craftsmen available in artistic collections in Slovakia. This topic from a long gone world was mainly used in classical types of craft works – in two hundred drawings, graphics, oil paintings and sculptures dating from the nineteenth century up to present day. Thirty galleries, museums and several private owners provided these for the exhibition. The oldest depictions of masters are connected with the development of scientific topographical and ethnographical studies. Artists of various nationalities (Hungarians, Austrians, Germans, French and English) focused their attention on a special phenomenon from the former upper Hungary – wandering tinkers. Pictures and graphics with tinkers started to appear in the second decade and remained until the end of the nineteenth century. These are connected with the greatest period of craft development through the great wanderings of tinkers abroad. The collection by domestic authors is the largest one at the exhibition, and the tinker motif is still depicted. The oldest work is by the graphic artist Jozef Heinbucher-Bikkessy, who was one of the first painters to depict a tinker, as early as 1816. The credibility of depicting clothing makes this work one of the oldest documents showing the clothing of tinkers as well as rare illustrations of shoes and clothing in southwest Slovakia in the first decades of the nineteenth century. In the mid nineteenth century, Slovak Intelligence, who at that time led the national revolutionary movement, started to regard the figure of the wandering tinker as one of the nation’s symbol. In the first half of the twentieth century, the topic of tinkers appeared in the work of several significant personalities of Slovak modern art. In the 1940s and 1950s, this motif ceased to exist in the modern world. From the 1970s until the present day, the motifs of the old masters were only painted by fellow countrymen living in tinker areas (M. Cipár, O. Zimka). In the collection of amateur creations, the topic of the tinker has been popular in sculptures from various materials – clay and wire sculptures as well as wood carving.




Further articles in the magazine Craft, Art, Design 02/2005:


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