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House of Art
TUE–SUN / 10:00–18:00

Josef Čapek / Cloud

1933

Josef Čapek’s artistic intuition pre-empted them in 1933 with his painting Cloud. A field path winds towards the horizon surrounded by dramatic contours. Mournful figures of women proceed along it. They are homeless pilgrims heading towards timelessness, from nowhere to nowhere, without hope. An ominous cloud covers the sky and only the mile post in the bottom left corner with the date is the symbolic time marker. With this work Čapek expressed his foreboding of war, suffering, genocide and the division of Europe. At the same time it is as if he had an intimation of his own tragic death in a concentration camp. Many decades have passed since this powerful work was painted but it still remains a memento and a commemoration of the victims of anti-fascist resistance.

ČAPEK JOSEF

Čapek attended the School of Applied Arts in Prague from 1904 to 1910, where his teachers were Emanuel Dítě, Arnošt Hofbauer, Karel Mašek, Jan Preisler and Ladislav Šaloun. After graduating he attended the Académie Colarossi in Paris. He was a founding member of the SVU and The Stubborn Group. In the 1930s he left the Mánes association and joined the visual arts section of the Umělecká beseda. His oeuvre combined influences of French art —— particularly the post-Cézanne generation —— Cubist tendencies and —— after World War I —— influences of Civilism. He was one of the Czech artists who occupy an important place in European art. The visions expressed in his paintings and sculptures of the 1930s and ’40s demonstrate how powerful and tangible premonitions of evil can be in works of art. In Europe the theme was first broached by Pablo Picasso in his legendary painting Guernica (1937), or by Dali with his painting Premonition of Civil War (1936). It is a phenomenon we find among the Czech artists Jan Bauch, Emil Filla, František Muzika among many others.
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