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Czech Cubism  

Radomíra Sedláková

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....