Meda Mladkova

Article

May 28, 2022

Meda Mládková, née Marie Sokolová, (September 8, 1919 Zákupy - May 3, 2022 Prague) was a Czech art collector and patron, founder of the Jan and Meda Mládková Foundation and the Kampa Museum. She was the wife of economist Jan Viktor Mládek. She has lived in exile since 1948, but has maintained contacts with the Czechoslovak art scene. She returned to Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Biography

The brewer of the chateau brewery in Zákupy grew up in the family. The father was Czech, the mother a Sudeten German. Later, the family moved to Smiřice and Meda Sokolová attended the Hradec Králové classical grammar school. She intended to study at a business academy and dance, but her parents disagreed. Only when she was transferred to a family school and moved to her aunt's in Prague could she take dance classes. She graduated in 1936 and two years later (1938) received a diploma as a professional dancer from the First Republic choreographer Marta Aubrechtová. During the war, she performed as a dancer in the Reich, first in the then German (now Lithuanian) Klaipėda and later in Vienna (1941–1945), and gained self-confidence and independence. She lived through the end of the war in Prague. She witnessed the brutality associated with expelling the Germans, and this experience became one of the reasons why she left Czechoslovakia.

Life in exile

After the war, she decided to receive a quality education in Switzerland and left for Geneva in 1946. With the help of acquaintances, she paid tuition fees and earned a living as a dancer during her studies. She originally intended to study languages ​​at the École de Traduction et d’Interprétation, but took part in discussions with students studying economics and political science and eventually transferred to economics and political science at the University of Geneva. She successfully completed her studies and obtained a doctorate in economics for her dissertation, in which she analyzed the Second International. After the communist coup in 1948, Meda Sokolová decided to remain in exile. She participated in the editorial work in the politically oriented magazine of the Czechoslovak exiles Skutečnost, which was founded in 1949 by Petr Hrubý. The reality was the manifestation platform of her generation, and Ferdinand Peroutka and Pavel Tigrid were among a wider circle of contributors. The magazine sharply criticized the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, called for a more interconnected Europe and opposed communism. She devotedly helped raise money to pay tuition fees for other young Czechoslovak refugees. In Switzerland, she was only protected for a limited period of time and it was difficult to obtain citizenship there. In order to preserve her freedom and to travel freely in Europe, she accepted an offer of marriage from the Belgian nobleman Remi Antoine Joseph de Mûelenaer and married him in 1949. She obtained a Belgian passport and, together with her husband, got to know a number of European museums and galleries during her travels. During the gradual disintegration of the editorial office of Skutečnost (it ceased to be published in 1953), she founded her own publishing house, Edition Sokolová, in Geneva in 1952, which she later moved to Paris. The editorial board included Ferdinand Peroutka, Josef Kodíček, Julius Firt or the writer Peter Demetz, later a professor at Yale University. She has published works by exiled authors (Ferdinand Peroutka, Ivan Blatný) or a book by André Breton about the painter Toyen. At the turn of 1953-54, she helped her mother, brother, and his wife flee through East Germany and a refugee camp in West Germany to Paris. In 1955, she met economist Jan Mládek when she came to ask him for a financial contribution to the publishing house. Shortly afterwards, she divorced and in 1956 began studying fine arts at the L’École du Louvre near the Sorbonne in Paris. In the same year, she met František Kupka, who was alerted to her by Mládek's friend, the famous Parisian antiquarian J