Starting a business was more of a coincidence than a carefully thought-out step. It all started when Jiří Rybář was approached by an Austrian friend and painting trader, Alex, who invited him to cooperate. Rybář had always been keen on fine art; he studied art at the Higher Professional School of Art and Design in Brno and had painted and moved in artistic circles since childhood. His older brother was the academic painter Jan Wolf and his younger brother Radovan taught art history at a university. The art market in Czechoslovakia was then in its infancy and in an uncharted territory. It was a big challenge for Rybář.
In 1990, he started his own company named Art Consulting, later 1. ART CONSULTING CZ. It started off by holding collector’s meetings and then regular sales exhibitions in Brno and Prague. The company exhibited and sold painters belonging to classical art and reached out to well-known creators who had previously sold mainly from their own studios. It all headed to a single goal: to organise the very first Western-style auction of paintings and sculptures in the post-revolutionary Czech Republic – without the need to negotiate prices, wait for the buyer’s decision, or haggle over discounts, all in one place, at one time, before the eyes of participants and the media. The very first auction was a big success, and the newspapers wrote about it as “Brno’s attack on Prague”.
Since then, tens of thousands of paintings and works of art worth several billion CZK have passed through the auctioned house 1. Art Consulting. Auctions took place in Kampa and Žofín, before eventually finding their home in one of the most prestigious exhibition spaces in Prague, the famous Topič Salon on Národní třída. The auction market has now become wide with room for other auction companies. Yet, not everyone is so successful at bringing new people to fine art, “creating” new collectors, or attracting investors with their offer. And not just this. Once again at the forefront, the auction house has been a pioneer in including contemporary creators in auction sales, and this step has proven to be extremely successful and essential, despite initial mistrust. 1. Art Consulting has again shown its progressiveness and superb market knowledge. Even our auction catalogues outshine others with their superb quality and continuous innovations, and they are considered a paragon on the fine art market. They are often an inspiration for even the world’s best auction houses.
It would seem that everything has now been achieved and that pole position in the Czech Republic would be a sufficient reward for 30 years of hard, honest work. But not so for Jiří Rybář. When asked about his next goal and challenge, he replied: “Our company now has two basic tasks. To enable Czech collectors and investors to purchase top foreign artists in Czech auctions and also to make Czech artists more accessible to foreign markets.
We view the European fine art market as a single whole and strive to be an equal part of it.”