Avant-Garde and Architecture in Czechoslovakia 1909-1938

Avant-Garde and Architecture in Czechoslovakia 1909-1938
This collection, earlier published in a microfiche collection by IDC Publishers, makes available a number of leading periodicals and monographs with special importance for the study of the Czechoslovak avant-garde and architecture in the period before the Second World War. It gives an excellent picture of developments during this period.

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Avant-garde and Architecture, Czechoslovakia 1909-1938

Source material for the study of Czechoslovak avant-garde and architecture in the period before the Second World War is very difficult to find. As is the case for comparable material in the West, this difficulty is due on the one hand to the small editions and on the other to the political and cultural situation after 1945. It is as though the political division of Europe not only disrupted the cultural continuity but also obliterated the cultural memory of Western Europe. This is the more remarkable because thinking in international terms was one of the characteristics of the avant-garde movement. 

Early in the twentieth century the influence of the Wagner school on architecture was very strong. The Czechoslovak adherents of this school undertook the battle for a new architecture in their country. A number of architects who had become aware of French Cubism very early, arrived at a new form of architecture comparable to that of German expressionism after the First World War. Starting in 1918, there was a rapid growth of international contacts and exchanges. Contacts with The Netherlands (Van Doesburg), Germany (Bauhaus), Russia (Constructivism), and France (Le Corbusier) made Czechoslovakia an equal within the European movement for a new architecture. A comparable development can be seen in the arts and literature. The influence of modern French poetry and later that of Surrealism was of great importance in this respect. 

This collection contains a number of leading periodicals and monographs with special importance for the study of the Czechoslovak avant-garde and architecture in the period before the Second World War. It gives an excellent picture of developments during this period. 

Otakar Máčel 
Technical University Delft

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Serials:

  • Sovremennaja Architektura, The most important architectural journal of the Russian avant-garde. All the important names are to be found in it. Very rare.
  • Horizont, Review of contemporary culture in Czechoslovakia. An independent and impartial journal devoted to urbanism, construction, and architecture.
  • RED, One of the leading avantgarde journals. Covers several genres (literature, poetry, photography, art, film, architecture, typography). Published e.g. the manifest of Poetism (1928), and a separate issue on modern architecture (1928).
  • Stavba, The most important journal for avantgarde architecture in Czechoslovakia, with an international orientation. Articles by e.g.: Behne, Le Corbusier, van Doesburg, van Eesteren, Krejcar, Kroha, Mies van der Rohe, Neutra, Oud, Ozenfant, Stam, Teige. Many illustrations of Czechoslovak and other modern architecture.
  • Styl, One of the three most important pre-war Czechoslovak architectural journals. Representative of e.g. the group of architects who adhered to the so-called cubist school before the First World War. Articles by e.g.: Janák, Wright, May, Behne, Le Corbusier, Lurçat, Oud. Many illustrations of Czechoslovak and other architecture. The first series gives a picture of the end of the Jugendstil period in Bohemia.
  • Stavitel, Like Stavba and Styl. a pace-setting journal of modern architecture in Czechoslovakia before the Second World War. Internationally orientated and from 1930 on, the voice of the Czechoslovak CIAM group. Articles by e.g.: A. Behne, A. Boeken, J. Fragnev, J. Gillar, B. Fuchs, Le Corbusier, J. Krejcar, El Lissitsky, H. Meyer, A.G. Perrett.

Monographs:

  • J. Krejcar: Život. (La vie)The 1922 volume carried the subtitle: Anthology of the new beauty; new art- construction-current intellectual activity. Articles by e.g.: E. Faure, Le Corbusier, and K. Teige.
  • K. Teige: Moderní architektura v Československu, Monograph on modern Czechoslovak architecture written from the avant-gardist point of view and in an international context.
  • K. Teige (ed): Stavba a báseň. Umĕní dnes a zítra. 1919-1927, Collection of essays on art and architecture by K. Teige.
  • K. Teige: Nejmenší byt, A monograph on the housing problem, the sociology of architecture and city planning, collective housing forms etc. The author collected the material during his period as secretary of the committee for the planning of CIAM congresses (CIRPAC).
  • K. Teige: Práce Jaromíra Krejcara, A monograph on a prominent Czechoslovak avant-garde architect who was a member of the Czechoslovak group. Includes a resumé of the precedingyears of the avant-garde movement.

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Avant-Garde and Architecture in Czechoslovakia 1909-1938, Otakar Máčel, Technical University Delft, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2018 <http://primarysources.brillonline.com/browse/avant-garde-and-architecture-in-czechoslovakia-1909-1938>