Czech Republic Arts
Following the conversion of the principality of Bohemia to Christianity (845), which marked the beginning of the region’s approach to Latin culture, the first stone churches of the Carolingian type were built in Bohemia (Rotonda di S. Wenceslao in the castle of Prague, 10th century). In the sec. XI basilical churches without transept and two opposing choirs basilicas of the Ottonian type appeared. Intense building activity took place in Bohemia and Moravia in the Romanesqueperiod(Romanesque complex in Prague: castle, church of St. George, stone bridge over the Vltava, houses in the suburbs; 12th century), albeit in very simple architectural forms which correspond to the scarcity of plastic and pictorial decoration. The art of miniature is very lively, in which Austrian and Italian influences were mixed with the prevailing German influence (Regensburg). In the thirteenth century the intensification of German colonization and the spread of monastic orders led to the adoption of the Gothic style, both in the Burgundian forms of the Cistercians (Zvíkov Castle, 1240-60), and in pure Gothic forms (Prague Synagogue, 1230-40). After the gradual assimilation of the German late Gothic style (“hall” church of St. Bartholomew in Plzeň, 1330), an absolutely original Gothic style developed in Bohemia. In the field of architecture and sculpture the Swabian P. Parler prevailed, the most important figure of a whole family of artists (choir of St. Vitus in Prague; portrait busts in the triforium of St. Vitus). In painting, after the long Byzantine phase (thirteenth century – early fourteenth century), the assimilation of the Italian modes, known both directly (Tommaso da Modena) and indirectly through Austria (Master of Vyšší Brod) and Avignon, was decisive, until an original Bohemian painting, parallel to the art of the Parlers, appeared with Theodoric of Prague (frescoes from Karlštejn Castle, ca. 1360-70). Towards the end of the century the naturalistic current of the Parler was joined by a tendency towards linearism and stylization, in accordance with the international Gothic taste (the “beautiful style”).
This splendid artistic flowering almost completely ceased following the Hussitecrisis; it was only towards the end of the 15th century that there was a resumption of artistic production and building activity. The architecture developed the premises of the late Gothic characters of the Parler (Sala di Ladislao, in Prague Castle, by B. Rejt, 1493-1502), while in painting and sculpture the German and Flemish influences prevailed over the local tradition of the “beautiful style “. Only after the annexation by the Habsburgs (1526) did classicism and mannerism spread by Italian masters (especially from the Veneto and Lombardy) (Belvedere di Praga, 1534-60). In the architecture of the city bourgeoisie there was the contamination of Gothic, Italian and Flemish elements (such as the pediments “A fasce”), while religious architecture continued to express itself with Gothic forms. A cultural episode of extreme interest is represented by “Rudolfino” mannerism: Emperor Rudolf II (1576-1612) moved his residence to Prague and called Dutch, Flemish, German and Italian artists to court (B. Spranger, A. de Vries, H. von Aachen, J. Heintz, Arcimboldi) who gave life to one of the most unscrupulous variants of the second international mannerism. With the return of the capital to Vienna and the Thirty Years War an extremely troubled period began for the region. The artistic production resumed only towards the middle of the century, in relation to the propaganda needs of victorious Catholicism. Until about 1680 the Lombard and Venetian workers linked to late Mannerism (C. Luago, F. Caratti) continued to hold the monopoly of the building activity. Then came the French JB Mathey (1675), who introduced Roman and French classicism, the major exponents of the courtly architecture of Vienna (Fischer von Erlach, D. Martinelli, JL von Hildebrandt), and above all Guarini (1679). Guarini’s experience was decisive in the formation of the two creators of Bohemian and Moravian late Baroque architecture, alien to both classicism and Rococo: the Bavarian KI Dientzenhofer and the Bohemian J. Santin-Aichel. At the same time a lively school of sculpture flourished in Bohemia (the Berninians MB Braun and FM Brokoff, in the first half of the eighteenth century; J. Hiernle, the Quittainers and F. Weis in the middle of the century; the Platzers after 1750) and of painting (FG Eckstein, JP Brendl, L. Reiner, FX Palko, JL Kracker). In Moravia, on the other hand, painting and sculpture were the monopoly of Austrian artists. The panorama of Czech nineteenth-century art is more modest. After a late affirmation of neoclassicism, neo-gothic historicism spread and Neo-Renaissance, in the Viennese and German forms.
According to relationshipsplus, the rationalistic renewal is represented by J. Kotěra, a pupil of O. Wagner in Vienna, followed by B. Hübschmann and A. Engel. Rationalism between the two wars established itself more solidly (P. Janák, J. Gočár, O. Novotný). In painting the update on the European avant-gardes took place around 1910 with the cubist E. Filla, continuing in the following decades especially on the side that goes from the Dadaist experience to surrealism. Czech artists played a leading role in the European surrealist movement. In 1934 the Czech surrealist group was founded around the figure of the poet V. Nezval. The group was frequently in contact with the French A. Breton and P. Eluard, with whom he founded the Bulletin international du surrealisme. After the Prague Spring, naturalism for painting and monumental forms for sculpture re-emerged, with a clear affinity to socialist realism. Following the repression of 1968, however, an art outside the official exhibition circuits developed in parallel in many cities of the country, oriented towards the novelties of concrete art, visual poetry, Neo – Dadaism, Nouveau Réalisme (L. Novák, J. Kolář) and pop art(J. Balcar), despite the official line, supported at the government level, was, until the end of the Eighties, that of socialist realism, understood however with considerable freedom of figurative expressions, up to abstractionism. Several trends emerged in the 1980s, including the expressionism of L. Dudor. As for architecture, after the divorce from Slovakia, in addition to the construction of modern commercial buildings and office skyscrapers in the suburbs of the cities, the Dancing House (Tančící dům) was erected in the center of Prague, based on a design by Frank O Gehry and Vlado Milunič.