Dutch Poster Museum presents Czech Posters From the Lowry Family Collection

. March 25, 2013

Dutch Poster Museum in Hoorn presents Czech Posters From the Lowry Family Collection of New York City on view March 24th through June 16th 2013.

Czech PosterHistory moved fast in Central Europe in the almost 50 years between 1891 and 1938, the period covered by this exhibition. Situated at the Crossroads of Europe, with years of multi-cultural artistic and ethnic influences, the area now found itself also at the Crossroads of History, where the political, economic and artistic winds began to blow in previously unimagined gusts.

The peaceful, harmonious, artistically productive era of the fin de siècle gave way to the privations and horrors of war. Monarchy gave way to democracy and independence. The gilded swirls and naturalistic grace of the Art Nouveau movement gave way to the streamlined, unornamented, geometrical images of Art deco.

In 1918 a newly independent Czechoslovakia emerged from the break up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a year later she minted her own currency. Czechoslovakia was the only constitutional democracy in Central Europe in the period between the wars, and her economy was the world’s tenth largest. This era of prosperity, known as the First Republic, lasted until 1938, when the Munich Agreement paved the way for German occupation of the country.

No form of art is as quick to change to its times as advertising art. And Czech poster artists met the exciting and economic changes with supple alacrity, keeping pace with the times, interpreting and enriching the world they lived in via the images they produced for advertising.

Most of the Czech posters from before World War I reflect the refined, elegant and enlightened Art Nouveau style prevalent across Europe at the time, with the works of Frantisek Kysela coming close to the ornamentation, design and overall feeling of posters emerging from Vienna Secession during the same period.

During this pre-War period the work of Czech poster artists reached broader, international audiences through such publications as Les Maitres de l’Affiche which featured posters by Viktor Oliva and Vojtech Hynais and Ottakar Mascha’s 1915 work Osterreichische Plakatkunst, which highlighted posters by Arnost Hofbauer, Alfred Justitz, Ludek Marold, Ottakar Stafl and Vladimir Zupansky.

Of special note are the posters by Arnost Hofbauer for exhibitions hosted by the Manes group–whose progressive art and international exhibitions gave birth to some of the best and most famous posters of the time.

Art Deco advertisements for commercial products abounded with notable designs by Vilem Rotter and Josef Wenig and the Avant Garde artists made their presence felt in the commercial world with posters designed by Ladislav Sutnar Frantisek Zelenka and Josef Hesoun.

In addition to commercial designers, many Czech fine artists turned their talents to poster design including Jan Zrzavy, Josef Vachal, Josef Lada, Vaclav Spala and Emil Orlik.

For such a small country Czech poster production was disproportionately prodigious, the effect of a rich artistic legacy combined with powerful economic forces. www.affichemuseum.nl

Category: Museum News

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