Český kubismus

Cubism had originally been a trend in French painting and later became unique to Czech architecture. It originated from principle that the basic shape is the cube and thus a work of art composed of geometrical shapes derived from the cube is more impressive and richer in substance. Cubist architecture developed for the most part between the years 1910 - 1914. The year 1911 is often mentioned as the year of its origin. In this year the avant-garde Group of Artists of Beaux Arts left the Mánes Association and its members Pavel Janák, Josef Gočár, Josef Chochol and Vlastislav Hofman became the creators and propagators of cubism in architecture. Although similarly to modernism, World War I also affected the development of cubist architecture, we can still find the cubist or cubism-influenced works in the post war years (e.g. in 1919 the Teachers' Houses in Prague). Czech cubist architecture was preceded by cubism in painting with its leading representative Emil Fila. In their theoretical rules of cubism the architects express the requirement of dynamism, which would surmount the matter and calm contained in it, through a creative idea, so that the result would evoke feelings of dynamism and expressive plasticity in the viewer.

This should be achieved by shapes derived from pyramids, cubes and prisms, by arrangements and compositions of oblique surfaces for the most part triangular, sculpted facades in protruding crystal-like units, reminiscent of the so-called diamond cut, or even cavernous that are reminiscent of the panes of late Gothic cavern vaults. These figures are then also split for the most part into obtuse angles. In this way, the entire surfaces of the facades including even the gables and dormers are sculpted. The grilles, as well as, other architectural ornaments attain a three-dimensional form. Thus, new forms of windows and doors (hexagonal windows) are also created. The already mentioned crystal like forms lead to the special designation of crystal cubism, whereas, wherever round shapes are found, for instance even in grilles, the term rondo-cubism is used.

The end of cubism during World War I is attributed to the fact that this occurred for ideological and patriotic reasons. In addition to this, the splendour of the materials used was disapproved of and the colourful facades were criticised as being a mottle.

Pavel Janák

Pavel Janák was born on March 12th 1882 in Prague. In 1911 he became one of the pioneers of cubism in architecture. His designs were accompanied by articles, published in a whole range of magazines such as, for example Styl (Style), Umělecký měsíčník (The Arts Monthly), Kmen (The Tribe) or Volné směry (Free Trends).

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Josef Gočár

The name of Josef Gočár, one of the most talented and productive architects of first half of 20th century, is closely connected with cities as Prague, Pardubice, Hradec Králové etc. 

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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.

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Emil Králíček

Emil Králíček (born 1877 in Český Brod - died 1930 in Prague)

Emil Králíček is known especially by experts and historians of architecture who are fully aware of his impact on the contemporary „face“ of Prague.

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