Karel Miler

* 1940  

  • "We didn't even consider ourselves professional artists. We started by inspiration. One day in 1971 Petr Štembera was on a walk in Suchdol. He picked up a stone there, put it in a net bag, put the bag over the shoulder and brought it all the way to Dejvice. What was that? Suddenly he knew that this was the beginning of something. It was born just as Phoenix out of the ashes. At once, you realize - this is it! But what is it? You just know that this is it! And then you wait for a second inspiration to tell you: 'This must be done! This is it.' We were led to doing the thing but it can't be explained how. It just had to be done. And when you know there is nothing else to do, you can easily go and work as a shopkeeper or whatever and not mind it. When he couldn't paint anymore the painter František Tichý got drunk and told his pals in the pub: 'Damn, I'd love to paint!' But there was nothing for him to paint anymore. He just couldn't let go."

  • "Never in our dreams could we imagine something like an invasion by armies of our allies. That was a blast! One could not get their head around it. For a long time I didn't take it seriously. Only when Palach set himself on fire did I become alarmed. I regularly got out of the metro up at Muzeum and walked down Wenceslas Square to the library. There was a round garden bed there where people lit candles for Palach. One day in March I got out of the metro, walked towards the bed and at once felt: 'It's over, it's over, it's over!' The nation gave up and all hopes were gone!"

  • "'Hollow fact is the size of the universe,' I wrote once. Karel Srp wanted something in writing and I had some thoughts. However, I have no clue what it means. If you asked me to explain it to you, there'd be no way! I have no idea what it is. But as soon as this thought emerged in my head, I knew that it was true!"

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    Praha, 18.02.2017

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    duration: 36:04
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    Praha, 18.02.2017

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    duration: 02:05:50
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A hollow fact is the size of the universe

Studies, 1962
Studies, 1962
photo: Archiv autora

Karel Miler was born on 9 February 1940 in Prague to Bohuslav and Marie Anna Miler. After finishing a technical school he found a job at the Stavoprojekt company. Shortly thereafter he commenced his military service and subsequently passed entry exams to Charles University to pursue a degree in art history. After graduation in 1966 he began working in the National Gallery. He was then transferred as a substitute to the Ministry of Culture where he purchased art for regional galleries. In 1969 he returned to National Gallery where he stayed up until 1997. In early-1960s he worked alongside Václav Havel as a gaffer in theater Na Zábradlí. Both of them had also written visual poetry. By the early-1970s he found interest in Zen Buddhism as well as in conceptual art. In 1972 he got to know Petr Štembera and two years later Jan Mlčoch. The trio had done actions which they photorecorded and then sent the outcomes abroad to conceptual art galleries because it was impossible to have their works exhibited in Czechoslovakia. In 1980 all three of them ceased producing art and became engaged in other activities. Karel Miler continued to practise Zen. The November 1989 revolution brought about interest in conceptual art and photos from actions were being bought. In 1998 Karel Miler, Petr Štembera and Jan Mlčoch had an exhibition at the Old Town Hall in Prague. Karel Miler has two sons and resides in Prague.