1) Prague was perhaps the most important center for Cubism outside Paris before World War I, according to city guide author Sadakat Kadri.

2) The Czech Republic is the only place where architectural cubism can be found, as well as the only cubist street lamp.

3) Czech cubists “believed that objects carried their own inter energy which could only be released by splitting the horizontal and vertical surfaces that restrain the conservative design and ‘ignore the needs of the human soul.’” – excerpt from The Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art by Ian Chilvers and John Glaves-Smith

4) Pyramids and crystals were the most common shapes used in the movement (Wikipedia).

5) The movement only “flourished” from 1910 to 1914. When World War I commenced in July of 1914, the events stunted the movement’s commercial aspirations.

I’m not sure how I feel about cubism design. Maybe it’s just because I’m surrounded by the history of communism here, but I feel like the sharp angles, prescribed detailing, and lack of commotion remind me of Big Brother and totalitarianism where independent thinking is discouraged. Although I’m considering Czech cubism in polarity to the renaissance of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries where infinite ornateness blossomed such as with Il Duomo in Florence, Italy. The cubist movement was still a form of art expression and therefore inherently non-conforming to prescriptions of power, such as a dictatorship. I am sure these are not unique questions to be had in the world of artistic architecture.

I went on a walking tour on Friday—always a good way to get a deeper perspective about the city, as well as a good way to meet new people. An interesting factoid we learned was the area with trees and partial wall remains in the Old Town Square used to be the Old Town City Hall—the city’s “ugliest” building according to common judgment, and thus there were no complaints after the Germans burnt it down during WWII.

David Černý is a modern, famous Czech sculptor who does a lot of “shock art” and installs it in cities around the world. The late-night tour I participated in was the first time I heard his name; the tour guide was very excited to tell me about him. I will probably go out and try to find more, if there are any.

 

 

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