Czech art, art on the territory of the present-day Czech Republic (Bohemia, Moravia, Moravian-Silesia).
From the beginning it was shaped by the different cultures of the numerous ethnic groups settling in this area.
Romanesque and Gothic
Architecture: The first evidence of medieval art comes from the time of the Great Moravian Empire. The earliest preserved stone monuments are small round churches from the 9th century (among other things, the foundations are preserved in Mikulčice, which was formed under Dalmatian influence and which also became important for its craft workshops for jewelry, filigree and weapons). The founding church of St. Vitus in Prague, which was built as a rotunda from 926 to 929, pointed the way for later central buildings (castle chapel in Znojmo, 11th century). In the 10th century the first monastery churches were built based on the basilica model (Saint George in Prague, around 920). In the 12th century the influence of the French Romanesque (Jakub bei Kutná Hora, 1165) and the Frankish influence (Eger) became visible. The Premonstratensian Church in Teplá (1197–1232) was the first hall church to be built. Early Gothic trends found expression in the hall church of St. Nicholas and Elisabeth in Eger (1230–70; with older parts; new building after a fire of 1270; reconstruction 1456–76). In a similar form, the monastery church (1240–60) in Trebitsch combines Romanesque and Gothic style elements. Art development in Moravia began in the 12th century in Olomouc (Olomouc in Czech) with the construction of the cathedral (1131) and the castles (Nový Hrédek and Špilberk). V. a. the Cistercians (Tišnov Monastery). In a similar form, the monastery church (1240–60) in Trebitsch combines Romanesque and Gothic style elements. Art development in Moravia began in the 12th century in Olomouc (Olomouc in Czech) with the construction of the cathedral (1131) and the castles (Nový Hrédek and Špilberk). V. a. the Cistercians (Tišnov Monastery). In a similar form, the monastery church (1240–60) in Trebitsch combines Romanesque and Gothic style elements. Art development in Moravia began in the 12th century in Olomouc (Olomouc in Czech) with the construction of the cathedral (1131) and the castles (Nový Hrédek and Špilberk). V. a. the Cistercians (Tišnov Monastery).
The first purely Gothic building in Bohemia is the St. Francis Church (1240–50) of the Agnes Monastery in Prague. Karlstein Castle (1348–57) was built in the style of southern French high Gothic under Charles IV. Medieval architecture reached its climax with the (3rd) new building of the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague (begun in 1344, continued in 1353 or 1356 by P. Parler). Excellent examples of late Gothic architecture are the Vladislav Hall in the Royal Palace of Prague Castle by B. Ried(1486–1502) and the second construction phase and furnishings in Kutná Hora (started around 1380 by P. Parler, vaulted in 1481–99 and 1540–47, completed in 1585). Influences of the Italian Renaissance came under Matthias I. Corvinus and Władysław II Jagiełło from Buda (Moravska Třebová; Ludwig Wing of Prague Castle) and Ferdinand I to wear.
Sculpture: The portals of the monastery churches in Trebitsch and Tišnov-Předklášteří near Brno, sculptures by the Master of the Madonna of Michle (around 1340; Prague, Národní Gallery), the beautiful Madonnas (Krumlov Madonna, around 1390 to around 1340) are among the important examples of medieval sculpture 1400; Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum), works by the Master of the Lamentation of Žebrák (1500–10; Prague, Národní Gallery).
Painting: The painting with excellent early evidence of v. a. in miniatures (Codex from Vyšehrad, 1085; Prague, University Library) and wall paintings (Přemyslid cycle in the castle chapel in Znojmo, 1134), like architecture, flourished under the emperor Charles IV, who lived in Prague (wall paintings in the Emmaus monastery in Prague, after 1360). Tommaso da Modena and Theoderich von Prag painted at Karlstein Castle, the Master from Hohenfurth and the Master from Wittingau in South Bohemia. The Bohemian illumination of the 14th century (Liber viaticus by Johannes von Neumarkt, around 1355-60; Prague, National Library). The most important late Gothic painter in Bohemia was the master of the Litoměřice Altarpiece (around 1500; surviving parts of Litoměřice, Výtvarného Uměni Gallery).
Renaissance and Baroque
The Italian Renaissance architecture had a major influence on the secular buildings (Belvedere in Prague, 1536 ff.; castles in Litomysl and Telč, second half of the 16th century; town hall in Pilsen, 1554–74). Painting and sculpture were particularly encouraged during the Mannerist era under Rudolf II. G. Arcimboldo, H. von Aachen, J. Heintz the Elder, B. Spranger and A. de Vries were active.
Another heyday of Czech art is the period of the Bohemian Baroque. The architecture was profoundly influenced by Italian architects such as C. Lurago (Klementinum in Prague, 1654–58), G. B. Alliprandi (hospital church in Kuks near Jaroměř, 1707–17) and G. Santini, who combined Baroque and Gothic forms (St. John Nepomuk pilgrimage church on the Green Mountain near Žd’ár nad Sázavou, 1719–22), by the Viennese architect J. B. Fischer von Erlach (Clam-Gallas Palace in Prague, 1713–19; Frain Castle in the south Moravia, 1688 ff.) And J. L. Hildebrandt (Sankt Laurentius in Jablonné v Podještědí, Northern Bohemia, 1699 ff.) As well as by members of the south German master builder family Dientzenhofer (Saint Nicholas churches in Prague’s Old Town, 1737, and on the Lesser Town of Prague, 1703-11 and 1737-53).
The sculpture culminated in the expressive creations of M. B. Braun and in the more realistic work of F. M. Brokoff. Well-known representatives of painting were K. Škréta Šotnovský, J. C. Liška, J. Kupecký and P. J. Brandl. W. L. Reiner and N. Grundopened up to the influences of the Rococo.
Under the influence of the idea of national rebirth, a national trend began with monumental historical pictures and patriotic landscapes (Antonín Mánes, * 1784, † 1843). J. Mánes is the main proponent of a romantic direction. J. Navrátil’s works have impressionistic traits. Soběslav Hippolyt Pinkas (* 1827, † 1901), J. Čermák, K. Purkyně and Viktor Barvitius (* 1834, † 1902) oriented themselves from a. on French realism. The high point of nationally accentuated art was the building and furnishing of the Prague National Theater (1868–81, by J. Zítek). The artists involved in its decoration included the landscape painters A. Chittussi, the history painters M. Aleš and V. Brožík, and the sculptor J. V. Myslbek. A. Slavíček came to a very personal understanding of Impressionism. A. Mucha achieved international recognition with Art Nouveau posters. The early pictures of Max Švabinský (* 1873, † 1962), paintings by J. Preisler, the plastic work of F. Bílek and the early sculptures of J. Štursa are characterized by symbolism and art nouveau tendencies. The painter R. Kremlicka turned to neoclassicism.
Modern and present
Kotěra is considered to be the founder of modern Czech architecture. The painters E. Filla, A. Procházka, B. Kubišta, V. Špála and J. Čapek as well as the sculptor O. Gutfreund founded the Czech »Kuboexpressionism«. Cubism also experienced a special form in architecture through J. Chochol, J. Gočár and P. Janák, who later turned to functionalism. Functionalism v. a. by B. Fuchs, J. Havlíček and J. Krejcar. F. Kupka was involved in the development of an “orphistic” abstract painting in Paris.
From members of the avant-garde artists’ association »Devětsil« (K. Teige, J. Šíma, Toyen, J. Štyrský, F. Muzika) founded in 1920, the Prague Surrealist Group emerged in 1934. J. Zrzavý stood apart from the mainstream art movements with symbolistic, imaginative images. The sculptors V. Makovský, Hana Wichterlová (* 1903, † 1990) and Josef Wagner (* 1901, † 1957) emerged in the 1930s with abstract sculptures. Particularly under the influence of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the members of the group “Seven in October” founded in 1939 and the “Group 42” formed in 1942 (F. Gross; František Hudeček, * 1909, † 1990; Kamil Lhoták, * 1912, †) created 1990) socially and politically committed pictures. J. Lada and J. Trnka were also successful abroad with their illustrations. Czech illustration and book art are considered exemplary up to the present day (i.a. J. Šalamoun). In the field of photography, v. a. J. Sudek international recognition.
In the 1950s, avant-garde tendencies lived on in the form of the groups “Trasse” and “Mai”. Czech art was v. a. represented by the painters and graphic artists J. Istler, Čestmir Kafka (* 1922, † 1988), M. Medek, Z. Sykora, František Ronovský (* 1929, † 2006), Theodor Pištěk (* 1932), Adriena Simotová and J. Anderle and the sculptors V. Janoušek, K. Malich and Stanislav Kolíbal (* 1925).
The doctrine of socialist realism and the repression after the Soviet intervention (1968) forced a number of important artists to emigrate, including M. Moucha, J. Kolář, J. Dokoupil and the sculptor Magdalena Jetelová.
Among those born in the 1940s and 1950s, the painters Jiří Sopko (* 1942), Ivan Ouhel (* 1945), Vladimír Novák (* 1947), Václav Bláha (* 1949) and the sculptors Kurt Gebauer (* 1941), Petr Oriešek (* 1941, † 2015) and Jiří Beránek (* 1945) as well as the painter and sculptor Jiří Sozanský (* 1946). An oppositional Czech Fluxus movement concentrated around Milan Knižak (* 1940). The predominantly conceptual artist groups »Tvrdohlavi« (Jiří Kovanda, * 1953; J. Rona; M. Gabriel; S. Diviš; F. Škala; Jiří David, * 1956) and »Ponděli« (inter alia Milena Dopitová, * 1963; Petr Pisařík, * 1968) oriented themselves towards western postmodernism. The buildings by Jan Šrámek (* 1924, † 1978), Alena Šrámková (* 1925) and Jan Bocan (* 1937, † 2010) are among the most important achievements of Czech architecture after 1945 . The restoration of the numerous historic city centers is currently dominating. Some of the new buildings show a return to the traditions of modernism of the 1920s and 30s (including smaller halls by Josef Pleskot in the Prague area, from Jiří Adam and Martin Pánek in Brno, office buildings and conversions by Jaroslav Šafer and OMICRON K [ Martin Kotík, Václav Králiček, Vladimír Krátiký ] in Prague, Czech pavilion at the Expo in Seville, 1992, by Martin Némeč and Ján Stempel). Brno is particularly open to younger architects (Aleš Burian, Petr Pelčak, Jiří Hruša, Jan Sapák, Petr Křivica).