FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
A man for all seasons: Meet Surrealist painter, poet, and erotic artist Jindřich Štyrský (NSFW)
09.11.2017
11:53 am
Topics:
Tags:

01styrskyuntportcab34.jpg
Untitled, from the ‘Portable Cabinet’ (1934).
 
Jindřich Štyrský was an artist, a painter, a Surrealist, a writer, a poet, an editor, a photographer, a pornographer, a collagist, a revolutionary, a provocateur, a theatre director, and a stage designer.

If Štyrský had only chosen to focus on just one of these different roles, he would still be regarded as a highly original and relatively important artist. That he was successful at all of them, gives some idea of this remarkable man’s prodigious talents

Jindřich Štyrský was born in Lower Čermná, Czechoslovakia, on August 11th, 1899. It’s variously written in different biographies all probably copying the same source that Štyrský was deeply affected by the death of his 21-year-old half-sister Marie when he was five. How this impinged on his life is never quite revealed—other than his later erotic artwork where she becomes the object of his desire and that he carried the same genetic defect (a bad heart) that inevitably led to his own demise. Štyrský had a natural talent for art which led him to study at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts. His early work (like “Church on the Hill”) showed his interest in Cubism but hardly suggests the provocative and revolutionary work that was to come.

During the early 1920s, he formed a relationship/collaboration with the artist Toyen (aka Marie Čermínová). Toyen preferred to be addressed as “he” or “him” defying gender roles and confounding the male dominated art world with his sexually explicit erotic drawings. Štyrský and Toyen joined the avant-garde group Devětsil where they exhibited their paintings. Štyrský also became involved with the group’s theatrical wing the Liberated Theater, where he worked as designer and director. Together with Toyen, he also formed Artificialism—an artistic response to Cubism which proposed “Leaving reality alone” and striving for “maximum imaginativeness.”

Artificialism is the identification of painter and poet. It negates painting as a mere formal game and entertainment for the eyes (subjectless painting).  It negates formally historicizing painting (Surrealism).  Artificialism has an abstract consciousness of reality.  It does not deny the existence of reality, but it does not use it either.  Its interest focuses on poetry that fills the gaps between real forms and that emanates from reality.  It reacts to the latent poetry of interiors of real forms by pursuing positive continuity.

Whatever that may mean. Perhaps understandably, it was a short-lived movement from 1927-28.

In 1930 Štyrský started the Erotic Review, and together with Toyen produced an array of startling and highly explicit imagery for the magazine. Toyen wanted to eroticize everything. Štyrský wanted to épater la bourgeoisie. God was dead. Let’s fuck. His erotica was banned and had to be published privately via subscription. The only problem with épater la bourgeoisie is that the bourgeoisie is the only group that can afford to buy the material intended to shock them, and the offspring of la bourgeoisie embrace these supposedly shocking ideas with little objection. Yet, Štyrský saw this all as creating a revolution which would eventually change society. This may be all right in theory but in practice, well, Czechoslovakia fell first under the cosh of the Nazis and then the Soviets who had their own ideas of how to épater la bourgeoisie.

In 1935 Štyrský became a founding member of the Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia. This was in large part inspired by his and Toyen’s visit to Paris to meet with André Breton. It was during one of these trips in 1935, that Štyrský fell seriously ill and almost died. Though he never regained full health again, Štyrský still managed to produce a phenomenal amount of artwork during the last seven years of his life.

To give some idea of Štyrský‘s range as an artist, here’s a small selection of his work from early paintings to erotic collages and photography 1921-42.
 
021styrskychurchonhil21.jpg
‘Church on the Hill’ (1921).
 
07styrskýcountrycemetery.jpg
‘Country Cemetery’ (1928).
 
More Surreal and explicit work, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
09.11.2017
11:53 am
|
Miloš Forman: On Politics, Art & ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,’ 1976

image
 
Miloš Forman discusses One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Denis Tuohy from 1976, where the multi-award winning director explains his views on Politics, Art and Film-making.

Tuohy appears not to be aware that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was based on the novel by Ken Kesey, instead, he digs for some personal, East-West political subtext that relates to Forman’s past life in Czechoslovakia. (Though it’s not mentioned here, Forman’s parents died in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War—his mother in Auschwitz in 1943, his father in Buchenwald, 1944; while after the war, Forman lived under the country’s brutal Communist rule.)

Was the film a metaphor about society? asks Tuohy. To which Forman replies, it was more ‘a metaphor for any kind of modern society today,’ as it revealed ‘how far has the power the right to crush an individual who is questioning the rules.’

‘The power has Politics on its side. Let the Art be on the side of individual.

Forman, who had left Czechoslovakia in 1968 to make films in Hollywood, describes himself as ‘apolitical’ and believes there is a division between Art and Politics.

‘I like to tell the stories of the society I live in. I don’t have an ambition to give advice, of how the society will be transformed or changed—probably because I have seen so many disappointments.

‘I am apolitical person. For somebody that is trying to make so-called Art that is political—is crippling. Because Art is always, should be objective, should be trying the best of being objective. Once you adopt a political doctrine that, well, you can call Art, but it is propaganda type of Art.’

 

 
With thanks to NellyM
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
03.21.2013
08:45 pm
|
Natural History: Jan Švankmajer’s animated story of life from 1967
03.31.2012
02:29 pm
Topics:
Tags:

image
 
Jan Švankmajer’s beautiful, mesmerizing yet strangely unsettling film Historia Naturae, Suita (1967), presents a short, 8-part history of nature, presenting each phylum through a different piece of music. These are:

Aquatilia - Foxtrot
Hexapoda - Bolero
Pisces - Blues
Reptilia - Tarantella
Aves - Tango
Mammalia - Minuet
Simiae - Polka
Homo - Waltz

Švankmajer is currently working on his next full-length animated feature Pictures from the Insects’ Life is due for release in 2015. Based on Karel Čapek and Josef Čapek satirical play from 1922, Pictures from the Insects’ Life tells the story of a tramp who falls asleep in a forest and dreams of insects as a metaphor for human life.
 

 
With thanks to Teresa Carrington
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
03.31.2012
02:29 pm
|
Jiří Trnka: The Walt Disney of the East
12.15.2010
07:03 pm
Topics:
Tags:

image
 
His book illustrations and animations have influenced generations of children. Understandable then that Czech artist, puppeteer and stop-motion film-maker, Jiří  Trnka was known as the “Walt Disney of the East.”

From the moment he could hold a pencil, Trnka drew pictures. But drawing wasn’t enough for him, no, he wanted to bring his pictures to life. So, he started making puppets and opened a wooden puppet theatre on Prague’s Wenceslas Square. It was here in 1945, that Trnka and his colleagues started making stop-animation films based on the ideas and stories developed in the theatre. Trnka was legendary, as Studio Director, Zdena Deitchova recalled in 2007, “[he] was the symbol of a great artist and a great illustrator, and everybody in the studio in those days looked at him really with great admiration.”

In 1947, Trnka made The Czech Year (Špalíček), which told six separate folk tales of Czech life. It was a defining moment for Trnka as he won several international awards three years running across Europe. Trnka’s next film was the Song of the Prairie, and then, in 1949, he made The Emperor’s Nightingale a beautiful, poetic and unforgettable film, adapted from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, and voiced by Hollywood star Boris Karloff.

Though he worked with puppets, Trnka’s unique drawing skills were still very evident, as author Edgar Dutka recalled in a memoir:

“He transferred this style of book illustration into puppets, so they are very typical. If I see Trnka’s puppets, I say: ‘Oh, that’s Trnka. His roots are in Czech village, in Czech culture, so those puppets are villagers: short legs… farmers…’ They’re lovely. It’s a special style. That’s why his fairy tale won the Grand Prix in Cannes in 1946, because it was something new.”

Over the next ten years, Trnka made four of his best known works, The Merry Circus (Veselý Cirkus, 1951), Old Czech Legends (Staré pověsti české, 1953), The Good Soldier Svejk (Dobrý voják Švejk, 1955) and arguably his greatest film A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Sen noci svatojánské, 1959).

Then in 1965, he made his last film The Hand (Ruka), with which he moved away from traditional Czech tales to a political critique of his country under Russian domination. It was a controversial and very dangerous film to make, one that:

...was an unexpected and surprising break in his work thus far. It was something completely new in content and form. The Hand is a merciless political allegory, which strictly follows story outline without developing lyrical details as usual; it had a strong dramatic arc with deep catharsis…

...When The Hand was released it was officially declared as Trnka’s criticism of the Cult of Personality (Stalin), but for all people, it was an alarming allegory of human existence in a totalitarian society. The film had the strong up-to-date story about the Artist and the omnipresent Hand, which only allowed the Artist to make sculptures of the Hand and nothing else. The Artist was sent to a prison for his disobedience and pressed to hew a huge sculpture of the Hand. When the omnipresent Hand caused the Artist’s death, the same Hand organizes the artist’s State funeral with all artists honoured. Trnka, for the first time, openly expressed his opinion about his own inhuman totalitarian society. The Hand was one of the first films that helped to open the short Prague’s Spring.

In The Hand Trnka predicted his own fate, as he died at the early age of fifty-seven in 1969. Like the Artist in his last film, he was buried with full State honors. This documentary gives a fascinating insight into Trnka’s brilliant creative world.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Jan Švankmajer - Dimensions of Dialogue


 
Part 2 plus Trnka’s ‘The Hand’ after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
12.15.2010
07:03 pm
|