December 21, 2005
Examples of Josef Čapek's ArtThe Main Library at UIUC has acquired a license for ArtStor, a database of art collections that have been reproduced in digital format. (If you are a UIUC student or a member of the UIUC faculty or staff, then you can access--and register for a log-in to--ArtStor through the Online Research Resources page. Just type "ArtStor" in the white box, and you'll be taken to a link through which to enter, and register for, the database.)
So far, the only Czech artist whose works I could find in ArtStor is Josef Čapek, which is probably no surprise! There are two examples of his Cubist-inspired style in the ArtStor database:
NOTE: You will need a UIUC Net ID and password to view these images.
- Organ Grinder (1913), oil painting (viewable by UIUC patrons only)
- Negro King (1920), oil painting (viewable by UIUC patrons only)
More information about Czech Cubism may be found in this brief 2001 article, based on an exhibition in Salzburg, Austria, that same year: Kimball, R. "Czech cubism, 1912-1916" at the Rupertinum, Salzburg. The New Criterion v. 20 no. 2 (October 2001) p. 43-4. Here is the abstract for the article: "A review of 'Czech Cubism, 1912-1916,' an exhibition at the Rupertinum, Salzburg, Austria, from July 21 to October 7, 2001. Intelligently and professionally put together, this quiet show had the good sense and daring to focus on the artwork, leaving the 120 paintings and sculptures to speak for themselves. Of the nine artists represented in the show, only Josef Capek and Emil Filla are known in America, and their work is also the show's most distinctive and aesthetically rewarding."
Term used to describe a style in architecture and the applied arts, directly inspired by Cubist painting and sculpture, which was developed by architects and designers active in Prague shortly before World War I; the term itself was not used until the 1960s. The leaders of the style were the members of the Group of Plastic Artists (1911–14), which broke away from the Mánes Union of Artists in 1911 and for two years published its own journal, Umělecký měsíčník (‘Art monthly’). The architects in the group were Josef Gočár, Josef Chochol, Vlastislav Hofman (1884–1964) and Pavel Janák; other members included Emil Filla, Václav Špála, Antonín Procházka and Otto Gutfreund. The group was reacting against the austere rationalism of such architects as Jan Kotěra, seeking instead to sustain architecture and the applied arts as branches of art rich in content. Their approach was expounded in various articles, particularly by Janák, who developed the principles of architectural Cubism; based on the thesis of Cubism in painting and sculpture, that art should create a distinctive, parallel picture of reality, it attempted to dematerialize a building’s mass by the three-dimensional surface sculpturing of the façade with abstract, prismatic forms.
The principal buildings to embody these ideas include Gočár’s sanatorium (1911–12) at Bohdaneč, and Black Madonna House (1911–12), Prague; three houses by Chochol (1911–13) beneath Vyšehrad in Prague (for illustration see Prague, fig. 6); and Janák’s rebuilding (1913) of an existing Baroque house in Pelhřimov with Cubist details. Later works include three teachers’ houses (1917–19), Prague, by Otakar Novotný. Jiří Kroha also acknowledged Cubism in some of his studies but soon moved away to develop an expression of his own. Architectural Cubism, unmatched in any other country, was a significant step in the evolution of Czech architecture, contributing to the demise of 19th-century academicism and historicism. At the same time it amounted to a break with other developments of the early 20th century, including the Viennese Secession as well as rationalism. However, while it brought architectural form to artistic abstraction, dynamizing mass and elaborating the spatial plasticity of façades and their detail, it had no profound effect on the interior planning of buildings or on their structure.
The principles of Czech Cubism found more prolific expression in the applied arts and in furniture design. In 1912 Gočár and Janák set up the Prague Art Workshops (PUD) for the design of arts, crafts and furniture; it was intended to concentrate on the furnishing of the complete house, with the contention that furniture should not only meet the demands of utility and good taste but also be serious art of substantial content. Distinctive Cubist furniture designs were produced by several architects including Janák (see Czech republic, fig. 23). They also designed lighting, tableware, vases and other products. The style gained international recognition with the dining-room interior presented by Gočár and František Kysela (1881–1941) at the Deutsche Werkbundausstellung (1914) in Cologne.
After World War I and the formation of the Czechoslovak Republic (1918), the Cubist style underwent a major change. The pyramid was replaced by the cylinder and sphere in the rich plastic decorativeness of Rondocubism, which laid claim to become a national style in architecture. It is associated with the same group of names: Gočár, for example, used the circle as a generating motif for the Legiobanka (1921), Prague, with façade sculpture by Otto Gutfreund; Janák employed the style for the crematorium (1921) in Pardubice and the building of the Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà (1922–4), Prague; and Novotný built a block of flats (1921) in Prague. This attempt to create a national style, together with the concept of architecture as primarily an art form, culminated in 1925 with the interiors of the Czechoslovak Pavilion at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, designed by Janák and Kysela; the Pavilion was designed by Gočár. It then yielded to the more vigorously evolving Functionalism of avant-garde Czechoslovak architecture in the 1920s and 1930s, supported by Devětsil, the group centred on the figure of Karel Teige that was formed in 1920.
Radomíra Sedláková: "Czech Cubism" Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, 21 December 2005, http://www.groveart.com/
P. Janák: ‘Hranol a pyramida’ [The prism and the pyramid], Umělecký Měsíčník, 1 (1911).
I. Margolius: Cubism in Architecture and the Applied Arts: Bohemia and France, 1910–1914 (London, 1979).
Filla, Gutfreund, Kupka och tjeckisk kubism, 1907–1927 (exh. cat., Malmö, Ksthall, 1982).
V. Šlapeta: ‘Cubismo Bohemio’, Quad. Arquit. & Urb., 169–70 (1986), pp. 48–55.
Český kubismus, 1909–1925 (exh. cat., eds J. Švestka and T. Vlček; Brno, Morav. Gal.; Düsseldorf, Kstver.; Prague, N.G.; 1991–2).
A. von Vegesack, ed.: Czech Cubism: Architecture, Furniture and Decorative Arts, 1910–1925 (London, 1992).
Prague, 1891–1941: Architecture and Design (exh. cat., Edinburgh, City A. Cent., 1994).Radomíra Sedláková: "Czech Cubism" Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, 21 December 2005, http://www.groveart.com/
Posted by at December 21, 2005 2:56 PM