Slovak Culture and Art
To speak of Slovak culture and art is to note a tapestry of traditions, customs, folklore, and on the same breath mention its staging under different regimes, and the European context overarching it. Long steeped in an agrarian life while being subjects under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and then after WWII, as comrades within a Soviet satellite state, Slovaks sought to preserve not only their language but also all those distinctive markings of their culture.
Along the way, Slovaks have also embraced artistic, intellectual, and political movements taking place in Europe, integrating into its particular context. Taken together, all of these influences have left an indelible mark on the “little big country,” offering an impressive array of cultural manifestations with which to represent it.
Anyone interested in Slovak or Central/Eastern European culture and art will find no shortage of folklore and legends, music, films, art, and literature to give voice to the country, its people, and their concerns. To acquaint you with Slovak culture, we offer you a small sampling in the following categories: folklore, legends, films, music, and artists.
What better way to get a sense of Slovak life than to watch it; here we point you to some remarkable films and filmmakers to come out of Slovakia since the Oscar-winning Shop on Main Street first gave a hint of the country’s tremendous filmmaking talent. We look at the works of such Slovak filmmakers as Juraj Herz, Juraj Jakubisko, and Martin Sulik.
Slovakia is replete with gothic churches, medieval towns, macabre torture inventions, as well as majestic mountains and looming castles along bucolic rural landscapes. Fittingly, legend after legend arose in such surroundings, many of which were based on enigmatic historical figures. We unveil a list of creepy legends surrounding them, such as the ones about Elizabeth Bathory, and the White Lady of Levoca.
No discussion of Slovak culture can take place without a nod to the country’s folkloric traditions. From music and dance ensembles, to handicrafts, open-air markets and festivals, we explore how folk traditions are alive and well in modern-day Slovakia, and continue to receive widespread support. We highlight some of the major festivals, such as the ones in Vychodna and Detva.
We take a brief musical journey through the sounds of the soulful fujara, liturgical and chamber music traditions, classical composers, village celebration songs, buoyant Roma tunes, and contemporary Slovak music. We show you the major events and festivals devoted to each type of music. We will also highlight some popular musicians.
The art of Slovakia draws influence from both Slovak motifs and European art trends. We chart the course of painting, sculpture, and illustration, and the works of new contemporary artists. We also point you to some the country’s most compelling museums and galleries, where you can encounter Slovakia’s multi-faced artworks.