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During the 1960s she made a series of trips to Czechoslovakia and other Central and East European countries, including Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia. During these trips, she visited many artists, purchasing paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints to add to her growing collection. As the years went by, she made lasting friendships with many leading artists from this region and forged close personal bonds, which have survived to this day.
The outcome of her interest has been the development of a remarkable collection by artists who emerged on the scene mainly in the late 1950s and '60s. This core has been continuously supplemented by the output of subsequent generations. The growth of Meda Mládek’s collection was initially motivated, more than anything else, by her aspiration to officially exhibit works by Czech artists in America and elsewhere on the international gallery circuit, and thereby to incorporate them into the broader context of modern art. To achieve that, there was no other way at that time than to purchase the works.
In addition to Kupka, Meda Mládek’s collection therefore expanded to include a rich selection of collages and objects by the well-known Czech artist, Jiří Kolář. During the 1970s, Meda and Jan Mládek also acquired a series of sculptures by Otto Gutfreund, in whose work they had long been interested. These works by František Kupka, Jiří Kolář and Otto Gutfreund have since been given numerous public showings, both in this country and as well at major institutions abroad.
In the 1990s, when major retrospectives were held at Prague’s Czech Museum of Fine Art, Meda Mládek brought in her collections of Kupka, Kolář and Gutfreund. The transfer of the collection’s largest part, however, waited until the reconstruction and planned opening of the newly established Museum Kampa in 2002-2003. The collection has also recently incorporated a body of art works donated by major Czechoslovakian artists in 1989 for the benefit of the terminally ill Czech art historian Jindřich Chalupecký. In 2002, Jiří and Běla Kolář donated to the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation a significant part of their own remarkable collection of late 20th-century art.