Vlastislav Hofman

Vlastislav Hofman was born on August 6th 1884 in Jičín. He was an architect, designer of artistic-crafts pieces, a set designer and graphic artist, who considered cubism to be a style that gives formative ideas space and imagination to the artist.

Vlastislav Hofman He commented upon creation in the spirit of cubism in a series of articles, published in the reviews of the times, such as for example, Umělecký měsíčník (The Arts Monthly).

Hofman gained an education in architecture at the Czech Technical School. His inclination towards cubism represents a radical turn away from the style of his teachers and at the same time a declaration of the need for a style, which would persuasively convey complex spiritual contents. Together with painter Václav Špála, with whom he shared a studio in the years 1911-1920, he was a member of the Tvrdošíjný (Obstinate) Group.

Hofman was strongly affected by German expressionism. His relationship to the German arts scene is documented by designs of the main entrance to the cemetery in Prague-Ďáblice from the years 1912-1914, which were duplicated in the prestigious German magazine, Der Sturm. Besides the Ďáblice cemetery of which only the yard wall with kiosks was realized, he designed a cubist crematory, which was demolished in the 1980's, in Moravská Ostrava. The best from among Hofman's designs that were never realized is the concept for the building up of Vyšehrad with residential homes with the center in the National Cemetery and the crematory in Pardubice. Among the artistic-crafts pieces designed by Hofman, the cubist furniture and the collection of metal pieces produced by the Artěl Cooperative are especially interesting. Hofman was also able to apply a variety of forms, in which spiritual content would resonate, in graphic and typographical works. He earned an important place in Czech graphics and typographics with a series of drawings inspired by the work of F.M. Dostoevsky, illustrations of the book by the Čapek brothers, Zářivé hlubiny (The Bright Depths) and the cover designs of the Almanac and Neumann's New Songs. The publication of this Neumann's collection of poetry was in 1918, in the end, accompanied by illustrations by Hofman together with Josef Čapek and Václav Špála. Free-hand graphics and painting provided him with even more space for the fulfillment of the cubist artistic point of view. His paintings: Maska (The Mask)(1919), Utopený námořník (The Drowned Sailor) (1917) or Stávka (The Strike)(1919) are important. Hofman's work in set design belonged to the sets of the key dramas, which appeared on the stages of the Vinohradské and National theaters. He completed the sets for the plays of Emil Verhaeren: Svítání (The Dawn) and Leonid Andrejev: Ten, kdo políčkuje (He, who slaps) (both from 1920), Vojcek from Alban Berg (1926) and the plays of Czech authors: Arnošt Dvořák, Otakar Fischer and the Čapek brothers.

From the middle the 1920's, Hofman inclined towards purism and constructivism in architecture. He also worked on urbanism and bridge construction. Vlastislav Hofman died on August 28th 1964 in Prague.

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