Czech Republic Arts and Architecture

The work of evangelization of Bohemia by the SS. Cyril and Methodius and of s. With the adoption of the Latin rite, Wenceslaus brought about a decisive orientation towards the culture of Western and Southern Europe. At the end of the 9th century. and the first stone churches date back to the beginning of the 10th century (Mikulčine and Staré Město; primitive rotunda of St. Vitus in Prague). The assimilation of Romanesque culture (second church of St. Vitus, basilica with tripartite choir, 1060; church of the monastery of St. George in Prague Castle) is manifested in the 13th century. with the churches of the monasteries of Teplá and with those of Velehrad and Třebíč. In civil architecture, in addition to the palaces of Prince Sobeslao and the Giuditta bridgein Prague, the ruins of Frederick Barbarossa ‘s castle in Cheb are relevant. German influences can be found in the miniature (Wolfenbüttel codex, 1006; Vyšehrad codex, 1086; Prague, National Library) and in the frescoes in the chapel of Znojmo castle (12th century). With Wenceslaus I, and thanks to the activity of the Cistercians, the spread of the Gothic forms began; with the Luxembourg dynasty contacts with the French Gothic became more direct: Matteo d’Arras was called to rebuild the cathedral of San Vito.

According to Topschoolsintheusa, the Gothic reached its apogee with the reign of Charles IV. The founding of Nové Město (New Town), which tripled the area of ​​Prague, promoted a building activity unique in Europe of the period. The main sculptural constructions and decorations were the work of the architect and sculptor P. Parler ; the painting was an expression of international gothic (frescoes by Písek and Strakonice). After 1350 a new realism took over due to Italian influence (master Theodoric and masters of Vyšší Brod and Třeboň). Also noteworthy are the miniature and the sumptuary arts. At the time of crisis marked by the Hussite wars, a powerful late Gothic development followed with Vladislao II (1471-1516) with the architects B. Rejt and M. Rejsek: in Prague, Vladislaus room in the castle and Prašná Brána (Powder Tower) ; S. Barbara in Kutná Hora etc.

The mixing of the Gothic and Renaissance styles continued until around 1530, when groups of Italian architects gave life to the so-called Czech Renaissance, a purely Italian style but with some medieval elements such as sporti, turrets, pediments (Litomyšl and Jindřichùv Hradec castles, palace Schwarzenberg in Prague etc.); in pure Italian style is the Belvedere (1534-60) in Prague. There are numerous examples of Renaissance painting: the work of local artists are the miniatures with exuberant ornaments, works by Italians, the frescoes and graffiti on the facades. The altarpieces and monumental sculptures are noteworthy in sculpture. Of particular importance was the group of Dutch, German and Italian artists in the service of Rudolf II, among which the painters B. Spranger and H. von Aachen and the sculptor A. De Vries, to whom we owe the more sophisticated variant of mannerism.

Until the end of the 17th century. the baroque is linked to the tradition of northern Italy but later, by the sculptor J.-B. Mathey and D. Martinelli the current of the Roman Baroque prevails. The most significant exponents are Ch. And IK Dienzenhofer and, in painting, K. Škréta, WL Reiner and P. Brandl. In the middle of the 19th century. the personal painting of J. Mánes appeared who, with his numerous followers, established a typically Czech art on which the Munich school later influenced. The development of the landscape school is due to French influences; Impressionism had the greatest representative in A. Slavíček. From the end of the century the country participated significantly in all avant-garde expressions starting from the Jugendstil (A. Mucha). Cubist research (E. Filla, B. Kubišta, O. Gutfreund), surrealist (M. Čermínová), non-figurative (F. Kupka) was of particular importance. J. Kotěra, a pupil of O. Wagner, reacted to nineteenth-century architectural eclecticism. At the end of the First World War, the most prominent figure in Czech architecture is J. Gočar, an exponent of the rationalist current, who also imposed himself after the Second World War (B. Rozehnal, K. Prager etc.).

In the artistic field, after the Second World War the official trend is the neorealist one, but the avant-garde continues to express itself with forms close to pop art and conceptual neofigurativism (interesting is the research carried out on the border between art and poetry by J. Kolař). In the 1970s and 1980s in the two most important centers, Prague and Brno, there was a coexistence of various trends, from constructivism to surrealism, from abstract art to behavioral art forms, despite the isolation in which the artists worked, who opposed the tired realist forms of official art. Typical of this creative individuality is the constructivist-inspired work of the painter and sculptor K. Malich, or the sculptor S. Kolíbal, who from a purely geometric trend moves on to the use of heterogeneous materials and unstable forms, then to the combination of geometric structures with symbolist and romantic elements. Among the exponents of the surrealist current are J. Švankmajer, his wife E. Švankmajerova, M. Stejskal. A new symbolism, which refers to the myths and ancient history of the nation, emerges in the neo-expressionist painting of P. Nikl and J. Róna and in the installations of J. Sterbak, together with the search for new forms of expression with traditional techniques, such as the processing of glass and wood.

The 1990s opened with some significant events, such as the election to head of the Prague Academy (1990) of M. Knížák, exponent, in the 1960s, of the avant-garde current opposed to official art. Among the artists of the younger generations we remember I. Kafka, author of environments and installations; F. Skála, former exponent, in the 1980s, of the Prague group of Ostinati. Finally, it is worth mentioning the careful protection to which the rich artistic, monumental and traditional heritage of the town is subjected.

Czech Republic Arts