Bauhaus and Czechoslovakia 1919–1938. Students, Concepts, Contacts.

In her study, Markéta Svobodová presents the context of the Czechoslovak cultural spectrum and lesser known figures who were directly or indirectly in contact with the Bauhaus, the German avant-garde art school founded by Walter Gropius. From Expressionism to Constructivism, including the Russian influence, the Bauhaus progressive school of arts and crafts reflected not only the art and its historical, educational, aesthetic and social aspects but also the ideological ones, accompanied with opinion-driven conflicts. It was a very lively, dynamic platform which greatly influenced the first Czechoslovak Republic. After outlining the historical context and presenting in the form of vignettes the main leading figures of B auhaus (directors Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer and Ludvig Mies der Rohe,
and teachers Johannes Itten, László Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers),
Svobodová puts the main emphasis on the Czechoslovak response to
the school. She focuses not only on Czech and Slovak personalities
who studied at the Bauhaus school but also on a wide range of personal
contacts and relationships affected by it: the efforts of the educational
and teaching reforms in general to establish secondary and university
schools of arts, new artistic approaches, including their promotion, and
concepts of then progressive historical journals (Index, Free Directions,
Horizon, Apartment and Art, DAV, Art Education, ReD, Construction,
Variety, Front, Centre, Moon, Telehor, etc.). The greatest contribution
of the publication is the concentration of a wide range of information,
both from original archival sources, and links and references to previous
partial, more detailed studies and theoretical texts published in various
periodicals, almanacs or theses. The notional second part of the book
deals with architecture, stage and exhibition design, typography and
advertising, photography and textiles, and Svobodová summarizes the
more important moments of these specializations. Each discipline would
deserve a separate study. In the passages on photography, she gives
great space to the local groundswell of the interwar left-wing avantgarde
in Brno, including František Kalivoda, Bedřich Václavek and Jan
Lauschmann, which became an important ally of the Bauhaus thanks to
Kalivoda’s contacts with László Moholy-Nagy. Photography is presented
primarily in the context of magazines, but Svobodová also marginally
suggests its forays into the field of education through film performances,
lectures and exhibitions. Finally, she also mentions photographers
and their projects linked to the Bauhaus school (Marie Rossmannová
Doležalová, Irena Blühová, Zdeněk Rossmann, Ladislav Foltýn, Jaromír
Funke, Josef Vydra, Jiří Koch). In general, mapping the Bauhaus influence
is valuable for putting it in the nationwide perspective, including the
specification of the situation in the regions.


Pavlína Vogelová


Svobodová, Markéta. Bauhaus a Československo 1919–1938. Studenti, koncepty,
kontakty. (Bauhaus and Czechoslovakia 1919–1938. Students, concepts, contacts).
Prague: Kant, 2016. ISBN: 978-80-7437-224-7.

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