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Sculpture of the Czech Art Nouveau Charles University in Prague The Karolinum Press 2001

Petr Wittlich

Reviewers: doc. PhDr. Vojtech Lahoda, CSc., PhDr. Mahulena Neslehova

M~stsk& knihovna knih. 58 odd. 11 S 17224

ex.:

Text© Petr Wittlich, 2001 © Charles University in Prague, 2001 ISBN 80-246-0235-0

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

1

Introduction

The turn of the 19th and 20th centuries was a period of remarkable development in Czech national culture. This process of awakening in the Czech nation, which had started more as romantic utopia, became a social reality based on important economic and political facts. The new character of the national culture corresponded with it too, built from its very foundations by the active developing generations of young artists. Their efforts were supported by the new social demands of the growing and self-consolidating Czech society whose nationalism had exacting and demanding ideological features. This service to the nation at first had the character of almost some kind of self-sacrifice by the artist, as witnessed by the case of the first national classic personage, the painter Josef Manes. However, during the second half of the 19th century, social needs for representation in the Czech program considerably progressed, bringing many new existential opportunities to the artists even though the famous "joyous poverty" hardly vanished. In general, sculpture was not the most preferred specialization within the art profession in the 19th century even though the classicism at the beginning of our era primarily started from ancient classical sculptural examples. However, the mentalities of romanticism and realism completely gave preference to painting and graphics and the drawing connected with it, as the most malleable means to illusionary depictions of the required scenes from both historical and current periods. The sculpture itself was strongly influenced by this and the problems in these relationships even make up a substantial content of its modern development. The sculptors, who often appeared as specialized craftsmen rather than creative artists, therefore fought for a higher sense and recognition of their work and it was precisely the period at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries that presented a kind of culmination of this battle which contained certain paradoxical features within itself The reason is that it took place still within boundaries set by society that required not only portraits and chamber sculptures from sculptors but primarily monuments and decorative sculptures utilized in the altered environments of large cities. Only this vast social order, especially characteristic of the second half of the 19th century, formed the prerequisites for fulfilling the sculptors' dreams even though their consequences were conflict and the results led to overcoming the idea of traditional sculpture and the birth of a historically unusual avant-garde. Czech art around 1900 appears as a colourful conglomerate of the most varied expressions. It had just woken up from its provincial isolation and in its hunger for novelty and orientation towards French, or more properly, Parisian art, it underwent a kind of chain reaction in fact already started by the younger members of the so called "National Theatre generation." At a quick, even hasty pace, it overtook the previous tardiness behind the leading components of the European moderna and allowed Czech artists to make their own contribution to the topical issues. Here the adaptability of Slavonic intelligence displayed its good side: it liberated a path to its own creative forces. If we peruse the artistic output of this period, we see that all the international trends of the times were utilized, merging with some elements that even originated in specific Czech thematic sources in the 19th century. Especially in the beginning of the era, in the nineties of the last

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Introduction

century, the large influence of the ideological concepts of the Czech National Revival was still apparent, drawn mainly from vernacular pagan and historical heroic figures incited by literary originated imagery. However, already in 1898, on the occasion of the opening of the independent exhibiting activities of the Manes Association of Visual Artists, the right of young artists to "purely artistic ideas" 1 was declared and this new aesthetic soon found its place in the thinking of more resistant sculpture, too. The main artistic ideas of the times were the following four: Realism, or more exactly Naturalism, characteristic mainly for the preparatory period in the nineties. Then Impressionism which had a most revolutionary fame and in Bohemia was still being absorbed, a long time after its demise in France. Parallelly Symbolism, a counter-point of the times turned from the immediately seen visual reality towards the artist's internal life, his concepts, prompted by his intuitive imagination. And finally Art Nouveau, which is now the most used term for the entire period. Awareness of its unity is reflected in a decorative style which was most apparent when used as an artistic system mainly in graphics, applied arts and architecture. All these trends can be documented by the works of important creative personalities. They form a network and its well-defined and often mutually considerably differing sources. Their diversity is most obvious in painting while in sculpture the situation was slightly different from this point of view. Its development was much more unified, undoubtedly due to the common starting point of the young sculptors mostly trained by J. V. Myslbek on the one hand, only Bilek and Saloun of the important representatives did not graduate from his studio, and, on the other hand, due to the fact that in principle it was only one stronger exterior influence that participated in its formation, the influence of Auguste Rodin. Czech sculpture was thus to a large degree protected from disturbing dispersion and it could become more focused and artistically specific both in terms of individualities as well as an overall cultural phenomenon. In the literature of the field, several schemes were formed for its artistic characteristics, starting with the above mentioned list of the trends of the period. 2 However, this list primarily relies on the situation in painting, for sculpture it only has a rather orientational importance. Insufficient specification in terms of the importance of these terms is especially felt in the characteristics of the mature phase of sculpture in the first decade of the 20th century. In sculpture categories, applying the period scheme of Symbolism and Impressionism led, where the matter cannot be solved as in painting by listing the individual exponents, to the fact that Symbolism was allotted only the area of the theme or the literary, philosophical, historical or religious content in terms of inspiration and focus, while the area of form as sculpture's own activity was accorded to Impressionism. That is how the favourite characteristic of symbolic Impressionism came into being. It seemed to be on the right place, supported by the thought that it was precisely this artform where the literary contents of the work survived on one side and on the other the form was released and liberated, a transitional developmental step in the historical process, only after which the modern autonomous artistic form would be created.

If Art Nouveau is mentioned in these connections, it 1s understood only as a decorative moment in sculpture, mainly finding its place in conjunction with architecture in its decorative and ornamental function, meaning a relationship which may be typical for the period, but in fact secondary in terms of visual art. Czech literature often considered Impressionism to be the central characteristic of sculpture at the beginning of the 20th century and artistically the most essential. It seemed to be a suitable expression for those formal features which most differentiated the sculpture of the beginning of the century from the work of both previous and succeeding generations: lyrical ecstasy through picturesque forms, disquiet in the picturesque contours, the group of volatile and frail lines, the principle of movable picturesque planes, optical harmony of alternating waves of modulation reflected in a complicated rhythm, the volatile light, tension, impressive pressure of the fingers and spatula into the clay and improvisation. 3 Nevertheless, these characteristics were also already a judgement and if we understand that naming a thing is always connected with its evaluation, we realize that what seems to be a necessary result of an objective description and historical generalization, is conditioned by a certain concept of values. The term "impressionism" in connection with the overall characteristics of sculpture at the beginning of the century, is in reality a negative one. The real foundation of its meaning was the critical reaction already started before 19104 and culminating in the twenties with the changing generations. At that time the technical civilization of the city developed, its convictions in form becoming the trust in a useful beauty of simple, constructively assembled forms and new materials. It seemed that the psychic and tragic subjectivism of the Art Nouveau period belonged only to the historically overtaken trash. The sculpture of the age worked with clearly formulated and "fully plastically developed" volumes. It felt the continuous stream of modelled material to be chaotic. In 1923, when Vaclav Nebesky wrote about the foundations of modern sculpture in the Free Trends journal, he found out that, compared to painting, modernity in previous sculptural work could be talked about only with some reservations. Rodin and the Impressionist sculptors reduced, he said, plastic shape to a play and conflict between lights and shadows, however coming from the exterior and not the nature of material. This dematerialization and spiritualization led to making sculpture painting-like, disintegrated volume, and made the mutual relationships between the separately shaped parts, merging freely one into another instead of being differentiated, more vague. Mighty life pulled down the dams built to the superiority of expression by the ageless sculptural order. From this endangered order in the world of sculptural ideas there emerged the greatest danger: an insufficiency in monumentality. Only the efforts of the younger generation oriented in the opposite direction had brought about its renewal and its understanding as a fully three dimensional object, simply enclosed and if possible balanced evenly in all directions. As liberality, lucidity and closure in a selfsufficient monument. This monumentality confronted the former decorativeness in which form only decorated an old theme and culminated in the stylized naturalism of Art Nouveau where its role in visual art was complete when liberated from

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Introduction

subject and freely developed into a self-sufficient ornament.5 Nebeskfs view of Art Nouveau sculpture grew from the arguments and period art movement needs. At the same time, it provided a theory on whose basis the sculpture of the beginning of the century continued to be considered unfavourable and so finally it was condemned as a transitional heresy ending in vain resistance against statutory tradition. When obituaries of the sculptors of the generation from the nineties were written and studies prepared on the occasion of their retrospective exhibitions, their Art Nouveau sculpture was already characterized by general agreement as an obligatory tax to the times. It was considered a deviation which, however, did not succeed in weakening their principal interest in classical form as more or less a passive reflection upon the crisis and confusion of the age. To attain their art, they only had to refuse sculptural shapelessness and find a new sculptural ideal based on the awareness of the necessity of a large sculptural construction, on the recognition of purely visual and only sculptural problems, and possibly on the return to the basic principles of sculpture which their great teacher, J. V. Myslbek, believed in.6 In this way the fame of Art Nouveau sculpture seemed to be already sealed forever. However, it is true that the sculpture of the beginning of the century was not completely refused. Some of its productions, especially chamber glyphs and minor lyrical intimate work, were still valued. Also the changes that began showing up in Czech sculpture from the middle of the thirties, when a sense for dramatic expression embarked to strengthen in it, announcing itself in expressive modelling and counting on the light differentiation of the material to make it more striking, making the ground for a more favourable evaluation.7 Nevertheless, these sympathies did not go too deep, even rehabilitating Art Nouveau sculpture from positions abandoning its modern perspective, the viewpoints of neohistoricism of the period or evaluations of the individual talents. Within these monographs, which started appearing when the working lives of the protagonists of the generation of the nineties had closed, the most interesting is Frantisek Kov:irna's study of Frantisek Bilek. 8 It was precisely Bilek who was a personality most connected with the period of the turn of the century. The basic question concerning his place in 'the overall outline of Czech modern sculpture could not avoid a closer response to this relationship. Kov:irna primarily tried to halt the quiet excommunication of Bilek which was his fate as a direct consequence of the fact that he consistently went his own way and did not participate in the trends in taste. Kov:irna thus protested against standardizing dogmatism of the socalled Myslbek tradition whose authority seemed to be unshakable at that time. He showed that Bilek developed not in opposition to Myslbek but outside Myslbek. Besides his voluminous sculpture he cut a path for a second possibility for an overall concept of sculpture based on contour. It was this artistic individualism of Bilek on which he also based his positive response concerning the relationship of Bilek to his times and generation. Indeed, he did not identify Bilek with the ''Art Nouveau-Impressionistic wave" which for him was a term only serving to put Bilek's problem into history "because the generation of the nineties had already stopped being for us a generation of Impressionism and become a richer formation with a scale of possibilities reaching from a cult of nature to its total refusal. We

al o know that the unity within the generation goes deeper, below the contradictions of responses, only in the method through which this response had been reached. In his method, Bilek does not differ from Slavfcek even though it eems at first sight that an artist seeing the world as black and white cannot be of the same generation as a painter whose senses boil and feed on colour. They both reached their contradictory responses in the same way and from the same starting point, each from his own experience in which a free individual by himself set the laws for himself and baffled any prescription or dogma." Kovarna's concept remained an outline but was the first in Bohemia to show a new approach to the issues of Art Nouveau period. This possibility undoubtedly consisted in a method which cared first for the content and deep personal motivation of art. That was a more sensitive and more adequate measure than the modernist dogma of "striving for form" which itself often ended in a pattern or even in well proven historicism. The new and always growing interest in art of the turn of the 19th century, which can be seen since the thirties, really began with the recognition of the limits of formalism and a requirement to renew a deeper spiritual meaning in art, both in its creation and its interpretation. It was not by accident that it was the Surrealists who were its first admirers and soon recognized the relationship between both expressions. 9 Independently of them, art-history interest in this era was also developing and its basic importance for the art of the 20th century began to be displayed by more and more exact lines.10 These intermingling streams then merged in the fifties and sixties into a strong flux which produced a number of works on Art Nouveau, significantly affected the shape of the contemporary visual art production and influenced the art market.11 Now Art Nouveau celebrated its real renaissance with the ongoing consequence of being anchored as a term labelling not only a historical period that produced vast and specific art material supported by lively reliefs, dynamically sparkling and charged with energy, but also an artistic structure in which it is possible to discover embryonic formulations of principles that have a vital importance for modern art. Art Nouveau was as hasty and exciting as childhood. Therefore is it not also destiny's determinating factor? To proceed in this direction, it is necessary to rip asunder the bonds of the created definitions. It is necessary to deal more with the characteristics imprinted on Czech Art Nouveau sculpture and focused on Impressionism. Usually one more adjective is attached to this substantive term, designating it more closely: Rodinian Impressionism. The connection provides a useful key to an analysis of this characteristic based on the belief in the decisive influence of Auguste Rodin or, more exactly, his Prague exhibition in 1902, upon the views and styles constituting Czech sculpture. The extent and importance of this influence cannot be in any way denied, however, it will be necessary to specify it. In these connections the automatic identification of Rodin's artistic view with Impressionism is the most misleading as well as the not less mechanical application of this identification to Czech sculpture.

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Introduction

The new literature on Rodin takes a negative stand on the thesis of his Impressionism and disproves it. 12 It draws attention to the basic differences in his attitude towards life that is also projected onto the structure of an art object. The original Impressionism of the 1870's is especially incomparable with the nature of Rodin's work. Thematically an abbys stretches between them. Light as a formal . element, the most common feature utilized here, was always used by Rodin in an expressive manner, often using a part of the body. But the aim was not so much a dematerialization of vision as in work of late Monet or Medardo Rosso who probably legitimately reserved the invention of sculptural Impressionism for himself13 With Rodin it is not dissolution of a shape in absolute light but more clearly marking the bodily, gestural or mimetic movements in its core as an essential psychic event. The attractive visual appeal is a means for building a new thematic repertoire consisting in the idea of psychophysical connections which, however, are not identical with the Impressionist cult of the unique moment. If for good reasons it is not possible any more to use the label oflmpressionism for Rodin's sculpture, it is also necessary to transfer this knowledge onto the interpretation of the Czech sculpture influenced by Rodin. That naturally does not imply a complete elimination of Impressionism from the Czech context. If only because it is not possible to explain Czech sculpture only from Rodin, in its overall context there remains enough space for Impressionism itself, displaying its own specific thematic range and formal characteristics. Everyday subjects and a new sensualism in sculptural modelling are its main features. This return of Impressionism to its original intentions brings possibilities for more suitable characteristics of Rodinian and related sculpture. While the former designations mainly took the sculpture's formal features into consideration, now we can further pay more attention to their contents and thematic moments. This opens up a path to a closer analysis of Symbolism, a strong art trend of the times which was not a mere copy of ephemeral interests outside visual art and literary interventions. If Symbolism was very strictly judged and condemned from the viewpoint of later efforts for "pure" visual art, then now it is obvious that there exist relationships between visual art and literature in a deeper zone than mere illustration, and it is precisely these inextricable links that maintain the sense of human culture as a whole. Given this, Symbolism has to be understood on a deeper basis than the area of literary iconographic stimuli, in spite of it being very important and ushering in significance. In addition to this we know that if we consider it historically, this time as a movement in art at the turn of the century, it did not concern a simple relationship to the literary model. Literature and mainly poetry also mediated for the visual artist a wide flux of emotional impressions, undifferentiated but intense feelings about life that used to be so characteristically called "mood" 14 on one hand, and, on the other hand, it also mediated a subject which, however, was not understood literally but as an emotional motif forming an impulse towards a creative reaction. As such it was usually developed freely, mainly transforming into something independent and particular in the creative process, so that the original inspiration would become even illegible within it. 15 The overall nature of

this relationship between visual art and literature can therefore be designated as an evocative one which after all also best corresponds to the planned goals of symbolistic poetry as they were expressed for instance by Mallarme when he spoke about poetic suggestion. 16 Sculptors, similar to other visual artists of that time, focused their creative efforts on what was being shaped with their own hands, on a sculptural form. Given that, this form was conceived in a certain manner. It demonstrates that this historical manner of conceiving form cannot be identified with Impressionism or even only with an impressive modelling craftsmanship which was already widespread from the times of Carpeaux and nested even in French late academic sculpture. A more promising question would be whether the form of this new sculpture was also not symbolistic and symbolic. This view provides two valuable starting points: the first, expressing a relationship to the poetry and literature of the times, in the sense outlined above, enabling the independent integration of sculpture into the overall spiritual climate of the period and the second, a more general one, pointing to the sculpture's typological classification ,which is a prerequisite for expressing the overall universal orientation of this art. The assumption that a sculptural form can be independently symbolic is not formalistic because it does not understand form as something in itself but rather a precise symbol connecting creative individuality with universality of ongoing world processes. The historical speciality of Art Nouveau sculpture resides in its ability to uncover the neuralgic point of this link. In connection with this it is necessary to touch upon the term of Art Nouveau. Its influence still exceeds the dimensions of the conventional designation of the era at the turn of century. From an institutional point of view, it is a movement of young artists for a liberation from conventional artistic norms, as voiced in their new associations, magazines and exhibitions. However, the term has also been used to characterize the styles of current architecture, applied art objects, book design and graphic production on the basis of several signs more or less common among them. The most typical one seems to have been the decorative stylization of natural motifs with linear curves merging into the ornamental. Decorative elements declared to be Art Nouveau, which originated only in the late stage of the style, achieved such vast popularity that resulted in the exhaustion of the style. Avantgarde artists had legitimately protested against this dead end for Art Nouveau already before World W ar I .17 But this exploitation cannot erase the important significance of the Art Nouveau artistic viewpoint as such. The reason is that its core was not only this decorative stylization but more likely a new visual symbolism. 18 This has to be considered the basic idea penetrating the entire artistic potential of the times, half consciously demarcating and half intuitively deepening it. This idea was not an orthodox aesthetic ideal with exact rules, as is best documented by its pluralism in practice. After all, its origin was rather moral and worldly even though its consequences were also purely aesthetic. 19 However, that was only the consistent logic of precisely those characteristic moral and worldly prerequisites of

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Introdu ction

Art Nouveau that aimed at merging life and art into one. In this sense the backbone of the movement was a departure from the previous historicism of the 19th century and an effort for a new artistic style. It could arise only through the cooperation between the individual artistic disciplines and the creation of new summarizing works of art20 or, better said, by creating a certain formal project of a collective incorporation of artistic components based on common artistic language. Art Nouveau graphics took up a special position which, with respect to its conceptuality and easy circulation, could most probably fulfill the task of preparing a stylistic integration. Graphic art thus became, as earlier in art history, an example of the artistic expression of a style21 and, in serving this mission, it was also integrated into other disciplines. Graphic art most articularly defined the founding artistic principles of the period style. As we know, these principles are line and plane. Considered from the view of sculpture, then a misunderstanding easily arises because volume and space, the obvious opposite principles, are usually considered to be its domain. That was the main source of objections against Art Nouveau because, accordingly, Art Nouveau in fact misled sculpture to an expression that is de facto unsculptural. It was said to be a picturesque expression, utilized mainly in reliefs, medals, plaques and sculptural decoration. The statement, that it is not possible to create sculptures based on the principles of line and plane, is prescriptive and cannot be accepted even from the viewpoint of historical evidence. Frantisek Kovarna had already explained Bilek's sculpture as another possibility beyond the voluminous sculpture of Myslbek. But neither is "Rodin-like" sculpture classically voluminous. Rodin himself talked rather about spatial planes than volumes and did not see in line only a twodimensional element, as did some Czech sculptors. All of this related to the essentially changing concepts of sculptural space as a static relationship between threedimensional objects which modern sculptors were gradually abandoning. As usual, such inconsistencies are a signal of conflict between different worlds. Sculpture from the beginning of the 20th century was condemned on the basis of classical standards and finally absorbed by tradition. In reality it was a courageous attempt to open up new paths for art. Its distinct position between historicism and modernism can perhaps be fully evaluated only from today's point of view.

Stanislav Sucharda: Frantisek Palacky Monument, 1912, Prague

I. Art Development

The Crisis of Monument In the 19th century, monument became the summation of sculptural work. The basic type, which developed out of the Renaissance and Baroque prerequisites, linked a component of historical reality, usually a portrait of a celebrity, with the ideal component designated by allegorical figures expressing in noble metaphor the merits, virtues and deeds of the central figure, upraised (often in the shape of a horse-rider for people of extraordinary political significance) on a highly ornamentally decorated pedestal, providing the whole assemblage with a hierarchically conceived foundation. Such a monument was considered to be a peak effort for an academic sculptor, fully satisfying the requirements that society and its ruling class placed on sculpture, regardless if it was a feudal-aristocratic class or the bourgeoisie. It was precisely in this century of victorious nationalism and awakened revivalist awareness of national historical importance when not only every nation but even every municipality wanted to pay tribute to its outstanding personages, thus strengthening the idea of their independence and importance, that the question of monument grew in proportion into the central theme of relationships between sculpture and society. The creative work that thus stood at the centre of public interest and was ideologically almost completely set by its requirements and concepts, was also supposed to be a work of art. At first sight an unusual possibility opened up here to create a monumental art in its originally designated sense, meaning an artistic expression of the spiritual and life fundamental interests of a broader community. Democratic ideas propelling the progressive events in the century seemed to provide such an aim with a sufficient base. A monument of this type, as it was accepted in the 19th century, however did not satisfy these hopes. It was most effective exactly in its early and actually simplest examples when, within the framework of the classicist stylistic view, it brought the older classical schemes into the present, ideologically aiming to a celebration of an important individual. For later monument production that especially in the second half of the century grew to an uncommon degree, nothing else remained than to repeat these schemes or only multiply them in quantity and intesify in dimensions, expenses and richness of decorations. Possibilities for real variations were in fact very limited and so the final result was an involuntary uniformity which in the end proved to be most acceptable where it limited itself the most, meaning a lone sculpture of a remembered person. Both public and artistic tastes had only to learn this denying self-restraint. However, during the 19th century there came a continuous effort to break through the rigid classicist scheme based on composition principles which only added up allegories. French Romanticism, which brought dynamic movement and emotional expression also into sculpture too, initiated experiments that strived to overcome the static character of classical monuments by expressing a narrative, urgently connecting the monument figures both in content and artistry requiring the participation of the spectator. However, this tendency, originally born of the impatient activity of the times, was later discharged only in external expressive effects, in the picturesqueness of battlefield panoramas and naturalistic seduction

18/19 The

Crisis of Monument

of veristic modelling. The monument, the major commission that could be offered by the society to a sculptor and by which he was supposed to express the spiritual potential of its vital situation, found itself in obvious crisis at the end of the 19th century. Its ideal appearance as well as its mission were gradually becoming more unclear, more complicated, like a Gordian knot between the patrons insisting on dignified . representation and a narrative quality on one side, and the artists themselves who started understanding the impasse of this servility on the other side. Scandals accompanying all Auguste Rodin's attempts at a new concept of monuments were the most distinct signals of a complete breakthrough split between the modern artists coming into their own and society. Nor did Czech sculptors avoid the feelings of crisis so openly culminating in the question of the concept of the monument. Even though the monument cult in Bohemia, with respect to the difficult political conditions of the national search for identity, only reached its zenith in the 1890's and Czech artists themselves were all on fire with a desire to create monuments for important historical figures for the Czech nation, such as St. Wenceslas, a symbol of the legacy of the old Czech national spirit and culture for those times, Master Jan Hus, the personification of the very peak of Czech history in its revolutionary resistance, and Frantisek Palacky, "The Father of the Nation", the most representative phenomenon in the National Revival. These were monuments of nation-wide importance and the city of Prague was going to erect the last two. But even here there were doubts expressed, however covered over by anxieties for the success of the enterprise. Jakub Arbes's short story "Saint Wenceslas", published in the Free Trends in 1898-99, was an honest response to and a record of this impatience, which exposed the views of the emerging Czech moderna22 with a completely unconventional openness. Arbes's fiction on the topic of an unknown masterpiece destroyed by its creator in a protest against the narrow-mindedness and formalism of the domestic art scene, was more pressing as it was linked with a real event that had deeply stirred the surface of the Czech art life several years before. Its topic was the competition for the St. Wenceslas monument which took place in 1894. The main character, besides the commenting and talking author, is a sculptor whose design, commissioned already several years before the competition and victoriously exhibited abroad, was considered unbeatable. Even though unnamed, this sculptor is apparently J. V. Myslbek. Arbes's plot verbalizes the artist's dissatisfaction with his own work whose success would only be ensured by an obedient return to established traditions while in reality it was only a sculpturally well executed rider, which with a minor change in historical costume or allegorical emblem could transform St. Wenceslas perhaps into St. George or any other equestrian figure. This exchangeable formalism was the sculptor's biggest burden, mainly because it was a direct requirement, unbreachable from the viewpoint of the sculptor's existence demanding compliance on which the fate of bis work fully depended. "The initial and, as a rule, the most unmerciful dictate is the dictate of the patron. What is ordered by whom and how must be performed exactly in the way as the order reads. Protest as you may - object, refuse, advise, explain, plead nothing matters. They might allow something but in principle they will eventually

adhere to a piece of work that is most traditional in its core .. . Then there will usually come, as you know, these honourable art committees and the elected commissioners who, in many cases only through their election so executed, have attained the proper qualification for the office of judge. This is shortly the entire well-known procedure of criticizing and guardianship that can seem to be a walk through a fiery oven ... In short, we moulders are, compared to you writers and other artists, undoubtedly the poorest precisely for the reason that our work cannot be realized as cheaply as the works of other art disciplines. We are the slaves to the most varying elements against which we cannot defend ourselves, and there is probably no possibility to fight, indeed. But still the time has already come for something to happen. The young and the youngest generations must emancipate themselves from the shackles of a faded tradition. I do not pretend that it will be easy, on the contrary, I believe that many will perish in the fight. But the fight is inevitable and that is why. .. " It is hardly possible to read in the period press a more open and lifelike description of the situation of Czech sculptors in those years than in the work of Arbes. Shattered illusions about patronage and the bare truth about the practices of cultural institutions, the will to tell and not to conceal this truth, these were the basic features influencing the overall outlook of the young generation that emerged along with the Free Trends journal. Arbes's sculptor, however, is not a member of this generation, he is an example of an older lonely pioneer who passes on his experience, gathering his strength for an ingenious deed that he nevertheless consequently destroys, accepting life with resignation. From this viewpoint Arbes's connection of the main character to the personality of J. V. Myslbek is interesting because it shows the relationship of the young generation, accepting Arbes's formulation about their studio teacher and direct example in their journal. At the same time the story restores, at first sight in a rather romantic manner, Myslbek's art profile which today we are accustomed to regard as completely classical. The criticism of the conditions expressed by Arbes's sculptor is authentically Myslbek-like if we consider his correspondence in which he expressed himself even far more caustically.23 Also concerning the sculptor's dissatisfaction with the classical scheme of the equestrian monument, in the 1890's the prerequisites for it were not missing with Myslbek even though it seems incredible, if we only consider the final result of the St. Wenceslas monument. However, when explaining Myslbek's personality, we should not forget the two-sided character of his artistic starting point that is obvious in the contradiction of the Romantic and Classicist tendencies existing side by side in the works of his youth (Dying Zizka and Hygiea). This contradiction was not completely surpassed and resolved even later by his monumental realism. It was precisely in the first half of the 1890's that Myslbek reached a critical juncture in his views on art while working on the allegorical sculpture of Music. Of Myslbek's entire work, the sketches arising in 1892-95, in their fragile lyricism and linear elements active in the composition, were actually the closest to the later Art Nouveau expressions of his students who were thoroughly affected by them. 24 Finally in the year of the competition for the St. Wenceslas monument, in 1894, Myslbek sculpted The Swan's Song using

20 /21

The Crisis of Monument

Josef Vaclav Myslbek: Swan's Song, 1894, bronze, 36.5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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The Crisis of Monument

Stanislav Sucharda: Maquette for the Palacky Monument, 1901, plaster, 42 cm, National Gallery in Prague

Stanislav Sucharda: Memorial Plaque on the Occasion of the Unveiling of the Palacky Monument, 1912, stamped plaque, bronze, 6x5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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The Crisis of Monument

Stanisla v Sucharda : Maquette for the Palacky Monument, 1901, plaster, 42 cm, National Gallery in Prague

Sra · a Sucharda: Sketch for the Ja n Hu s Monument, 1900, ink drawing, 20.1x32 .5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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The Crisis of Monument

Jan Kotera: Proposal for the Jan Hus Monument, 1900, destroyed

Saloun: Proposal for th e Jan Hus Monument, 1900, destro yed

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The Crisis of Monument

Ladislav Saloun: Sketch for the Jan Hus Monument, 1906, ink drawing, 30.1x44 cm, private coll ection

.!.

...ac s a. Saloun: Jan Hus Monument, 1915, Prague

Stanislav Sucharda: Sketch for the Monument on Bfla hora, around 1906, ink and pencil dra ing,

30/31 The

Crisis of Monument

23 .3x38.2 cm, National Ga llery in Prague

-a"

Bilek: Sketch for the National Monument, 1908, charcoa l and cha lk drawing, 48.5x123 cm , Prague City Gallery

a tiuhrened drapery of the already established Manes-like classical model, on which la er the definitive statue of Music was based as a "completely new work which I would have liked very much to have executed instead of the already finished large model..."25 This sculpture, which Myslbek strove in vain to get the patron to accept, corresponded in its ideological features expressed by the sculptor in his inscription -The old myth of a dying swan having its last song," with Arbes's romantic concept of M yslbek in an almost curious manner. It is also difficult to explain this sculpture only as a response to the current French academic sculpture even though it had been a tempting example for Myslbek since his visit to Paris in 1878. As early as in 1881, he encouraged Hynais to send him photographs of recent Parisian sculpture because he wanted "to take down a few of these things (Mache) from these Frenchmen." 26 With its topic, The Swan's Song is just an exemplar theme for the Art Nouveau symbolism, from which there is a path to Kafka's Dead Swan (1900). This tone never reoccurred in Myslbek's work thereafter, undoubtedly too soft and sentimental for the sculptor's nature. The sculpture is the last visible manifestation of his romantic bent, in the hard work on the St. Wenceslas's monument it gives way to a different concept: he had stubbornly decided to get the most out of the classical statutory values. Nevertheless, it was precisely Myslbek's dilemma of 1894, partially recorded by Jakub Arbes and reflected in the so different concepts for Music, which can illuminate the special value in Myslbek's late work that was probably attractive for its creator because in it he strove for "the impossible", meaning a victory in the very womb of the academic tradition. His students, who had expressed their reservations to Myslbek by publishing Arbes's article, however followed a different path. So the conflicts they had with their strict and often tough teacher date from a period around 1900. It is this period into which fall the sensations around Kocian's Sarka, Kafka's Fencer and Stursa's nudes announcing a growing distance between the aesthetic opinions of young sculptors and Myslbek, authoritatively isolating himself and steadily becoming more bitter with his increasing deafness and sad events in his family. At this time, he forbade his students to participate in a Mines exhibition. 27 These contradictions probably culminated in 1902, when Stanislav Sucharda wrote a review of Madl's book on Myslbek for the Free Trends in which, next to the natural recognition of Myslbek's merits, he also expressed criticism, rebuking Myslbek's current work as a decline compared to his early work. Of his works Sucharda regarded the competition designs for the group sculptures for Palacky Bridge the highest for their "heroic visions of the creative spirit" having a "bloom of expression and soul". Unfortunately, in execution and also in later work it dissipated in an "anxious effort for correctness and formalist perfection."2 8 In his article Sucharda speaks about the strength of the sketch. and, as a representative of young Art Nouveau sculptors, it is precisely in this direction that he most obviously disagrees with Myslbek. Against the classical idea of perfect and completed forms he places the Romantic principle of incompleteness, unclosed nature of forms as an artistic symbol for such a concept of life and the world that emphasizes their infinity, continuous metamorphosis and a concrete immediate

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experience opposed to the established set of coordinates. However, it is necessary to point out the fact that not even at this point of greatest distance between Myslbek and his students did they become completely estranged from each other. The overall tone of Sucharda's criticism was dictated rather by honest regret than cold refusal. This could be explained by the fact that Myslbek had never completely excluded a romantic component from his work even though he had tried to curb this emotional moment within an almost ascetic perfection. This was why there never stretched an abyss between him and his students who, when they themselves later got into serious problems further developing their own opinion, could easily adopt Myslbek's path, as it also happened to most of them.2 9 The vestiges of the 19th century Classicism represented the real counter points that incited decisive resistance at the time of the arrival of Art Nouveau since the traditional prescriptive norms of Classicism were completely against their thinking. That is also the reason why the obituary of Bohuslav Schnirch, printed in the same volume of the Free Trends journal, was distinguished from the rebukes levelled against Myslbek in an essentially negative criticism: "With Schnirch the entire period ends, now already surpassed, foreign to us and difficult to understand. The period of formal idealism derived from foreign models, fostered by foreign worlds ... Twenty-five years ago they admired his Trigas, Muses, Bacchants, Ledas, Hectors and Nymphs. According to the period viewpoint they were ideal sculptures and of course, among them also belong all those personifications of geniuses and allegories by Schnirch and others. Their parents are in the Vatican and Lateran collections. The artist did not create them. His worry was only to make them as externally alike as possible ... Everywhere he dwelled upon the very surface of the exterior. He lacked sufficient courage to wholly surrender himself to the charm of reality and strength to create a head that would be alive, have thoughts, be a residence for ideas and emotions or a visible concentration of an individual character or temperament. The lines as well as the planes are stiff and dead, imposed onto sculptural matter with a certain effort and heaviness ... Schnirch saw that his ideals were not those of the young, their world of thoughts and expression of shapes did not resemble his world in any way. And still he was so absorbed in his work that by the weight of his word he had obviously helped the mundane or even the artistically futile at the expense of works of invigorating freshness and originality. Schnirch's art has no admirers among the new generation."30 What was written about Schnirch in this tone and about the relationship of the Manes generation to him directly held the character of the program. Clearly here academic Classicism was refused, both in practice, theory, and in its resources. The new motto of originality, instinct of the senses, emotion and fantasy, immediately and unencumbered transformed into a sculptural act, completely contradicted the older ideas which had sought their example in the perfection of the sculptural classic antiquity. This abrupt departure from normative historicism was one of the most important prerequisites for the arisal of modern art. In the field of monumental sculpture it logically meant abandoning the established concept of the monument and opened a field for new unconventional attempts. On the other side however, it also deprived sculptors of their previous footholds and stable guidance.

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Josef Maratka: Maquette for the Santos Dumont Monument, 1903-1904, patinated plaster, 33 cm, National Gallery in Prague

The young sculptors, courageous enough to decisively depart from tradition, suddenly found themselves in a position fascinating in its freedom, the outlines of which were nevertheless completely indefinite and vague for the moment. Again, it was Arbes's short-story that brought the first report on how the young sculptors felt about this position. This time, however, now outside any likely connection to J. V. Myslbek, the hero destroys his masterpiece - an ingenious maquette of the St. Wenceslas monument - because he sees no possibility of its realization. The work is distinguished by the fact that, instead of an isolated figure, the artist creates a group statue of Wenceslas and the fratricidal Boleslav, partly pulling down the knight's horse. The figures of St. Ludmila and Drahomira then complete this depiction that the author valued for its momentary dramatic scene exactly and definitely depicted, so that if the composition had been completely removed from its historical or legendary and partially also symbolic garb, it would still have a similar meaning as the original and, from a universal perspective, it could not lose its impressiveness." This desired impressiveness was achieved mainly by the fact that the group did not depict "an already achieved victory of Christianity over paganism but a truly historic moment: a tough, even desperate fight of the leading representatives of the strong independent old Bohemian culture beaming with health with the representatives of a heterogeneous culture, more emotional than rational, and it also somehow indicated the later result of the fight ." Here the concept of the monument was already completely distant from the Classicist schemata of a quiet and epic celebration of the victor. On the contrary, in the intentions of the Romantic tradition and the current Neo-Baroque, an effort to depict the clash and conflict between fatal historical forces was asserted here by means that still preferred "a simple, sculpturally demonstrative composition, generally comprehensible and therefore popular." The fact that Arbes's fiction was not far from the work of young sculptors is documented in works they submitted as competition designs for the Palacky Monument (in 1898) and the Jan Hus Monument (in 1900). The Palacky Monument that became Sucharda's concern, however did not allow such a choice for one dramatic historical "moment" compared to Arbes's St. Wenceslas. By necessity it demanded a meditative confrontation of Palacky as a historian with long past events. Albeit even in his first proposal, Sucharda strove by still essentially NeoBaroque means to provide the whole monument in a final version with a unified ideological framework. Then he intensified this effort creating from the separate historically-allegoric groups, embodying the historical eras of the Czech nation, elevated and emphasized by his historiography, an assembly linked by a curve of motion. Its dramatic sculptural form was designed to allow the spectators to correctly read its contents and sense, emotionally engaging them into the monument's scene by its expressiveness. This aspect, stylization of the content and form, which often distorts the artist's intention for today's spectator, was, however, a requirement of the time dictated by the overall program of the art moderna at the turn of the century. Its main motto was not harmony but contradiction and indeed, all the monumental concepts of the period were also primarily based on the idea of antithesis.

The most rewarding topic that could appeal to young sculptors in this sense wa undoubtedly the Memorial to Master Jan H us. It seemed to them that historical reality itself and the tragic fate of the great moral reformer unusually resonated with their own critical and ideally focused feelings for life and social reality. No wonder that especially for older members of this generation, who also participated in this topical and important competition for the Prague monument, the personage of Hus expanded into a symbol in which all the problems not only of the Czech past but also of the present seemed to be concentrated. This significant position of Hus, after all reflecting also the emphasis on national claims and therefore having a vast response in Czech society, attracted art interpretations and searches for such a concept that would express the whole semantic background of the topical relationship to the personality of Hus. We could say that the world of Czech Art Nouveau defined both its concept of form and life in general on the topic of Hus and that the best results it achieved in the field of monumentality were connected just with this monument. Saloun's competition proposal of 1900 still displayed all the signs of the initial stage of Art Nouveau. It looks like a finale of a grand and lavish opera where form only illustrates the idea and dissolves in minor details. Sucharda's proposal, on the contrary, in its overall concept already relying on knowledge of Rodin's work, begins with a concept that in its own language of sculpture strives to express the moral greatness of Hus, treated in gigantic dimensions. In Sucharda's concept, also shared by Kotera who made an appearance in sculpture on this occasion, Hus was a tragic isolated personage who irresistibly sped on to his end, leaving a trail of historical remorse behind. Sucharda's depressing concept which corresponded to Saloun's Hus burnt at the stake, was rectified in later developments of the theme. Frantisek Bilek significantly intervened here even though he did not participate in the competition. In the October issue of volume VII of the Free Trends (1902) a reproduction of Bilek's Jan H us appeared accompanied by the title "The Tree Hit by Lightning, Burnt for Ages." Bilek's idea to derive the figure of Hus, arched like a bow, with mystically closed eyes and dynamically flaming hair, from a tree trunk from which he springs in a screw-like metamorphosis, attracted by an unknown force, was deeply anchored in the overall mythology of Bilek's art. It followed the earlier cardboard Mother! in which the idea of a cosmic affiliation of mankind, its growth from natural vital roots to light and spiritual integration with the entire universe was also expressed in a new and visually impressive symbolic manner. It was Bilek's statue alone, later freely transposed in his Hus Monument in Kolin (1912), that endowed the Hus personality with a more comprehensive interpretation exceeding the limits of a single injustice or a historical event. It interpreted Hus' historic act within an abstract universal orientation thus giving a direction for its comprehension. Bilek's Hus goes beyond written history and was in complete contrast with the historical-archeological principles of artistic execution of historical figures, as they were at that time still consistently performed for instance by Myslbek in his work on St. Wenceslas where he modelled the statue using a borrowed coat of mail. This detail very illustratively shows the essential difference between the 19th century classical concept directed towards a historically

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Josef Vaclav Myslbek: Music, 2nd version, 1892-94, bronze, 109 cm, National Gallery in Prague

active person and the authentic symbolism of Bilek's character. His sense for actual details, earlier understood as instruments determining human knowledge and mastering nature, dissipates into a concept suggesting the futility of man's material triving and calling for entering the spirit of the universal, even cosmic connections, in whose course one can at best become only one's own master when understanding them and surrendering to them. Opposed to the armed rider, this consistently romantic inspiration therefore presents a naked man condemned but strong in his inner beliefs. Thus the whining fatalism and abandoned-to-death nothingness disappear from the concept of Hus. They transform into a flame that "has burnt for ages" and lit the path for others. This symbolic concept, which is almost paraphrased in the visual form of the statue, was influential for its internal optimism. It probably also influenced Saloun who began his search in the direction of Sucharda's viewpoint but then turned in his work on the final version of the Prague Monument to Hus (1905-15) towards Bilek's concept, however lending it an emphasis which originated within his own artistic personality. Saloun's Hus erected in Prague in the historical Old Town Square is not emancipated from the historical context in such an irrevocable manner as Bilek's Hus. Since for the author, Hus is the personification of Czech history, of its sense and legacy, again becoming a symbol that is not only a concrete expression of thanks but fully engages the contemporary audience in an effort to persuade that this legacy is fatal and predestining. Here too in its form the Hus figure recalls a flame, as if a central point around which the wheel of the Czech history is spinning, rising in a group warriors of God, recalling their highest ascent, and descending in the group of exiles with their faces turned to the place of the 1621 execution. The depicted scene, not further elaborated but spilling over into abstract associations, is suggested to the spectator by the dramatic movement of the figures of the monument. They abandon the level of sober probability for an emotional affect through which the whole monument in its artistic treatment reaches a point of sculptural expressionism. Saloun, inspired by the expressive qualities of Rodin's Balzac and The Citizens of Calais, therefore brings the Art Nouveau expression towards the intentions of Expressionism which forms one of the welldefined enclaves of modern art. With Saloun Art Nouveau belief in intuition reached a worship of empathic feeling, a belief that the art experience is fully communicable through this path of immediate emotional communication: either it engages the spectator in an attack or it fails. If this component, which began with the Neo-Baroque tendencies of 1890's and the expressive part of Rodin's work, often has an overly pathetic character for today's spectator with respect to the maintained figurative form so deformed, it is necessary to point out that Art Nouveau monument sculpture does not become exhausted only by this. In reality, it does not lack a more deliberated ideological system through which more differentiated possibilities for creating monuments in terms of ideas were sought, for the most part, however, again through an intuitive approach. The interest of leading sculptors in monuments was excited by competitions announced in the 1890's to such a degree that later they themselves actively reacted

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to those initiatives for building monuments frequently coming from contemporary national corporations and in the press. It was precisely this voluntary response, when the question of realization usually remained completely open, that led to the largest liberation of their imagination. In 1904, the Podbelohorska Section of Prague Sokol decided to erect a tumulus on Bila hora (White Mountain), the illfated but .m emorial battlefield. It was to recall the fatal moment forming one of the cornerstones of the National Revival ideology. In 1906-1907, this stimulated Stanislav Sucharda, himself an active Sokol, together with the young architect Josef Gocar, to create an original proposal for a tumulus which by far exceeded the original modest project. According to Sucharda's memorial documentation and maquette reproduced in the first issue of the Style magazine with comments by Zdenek Wirth, 31 it was a large square brick construction in the form of an open courtyard crowned along its circumference by twenty-seven granite obelisks recalling the executed representatives of the Czech resistance. A monumental staircase led to the courtyard flanked at the entrance with statues of mourning women, interestingly stylized in brick into gigantic pylons. Behind this "gate of sorrow", in the centre of -the courtyard, a deeply descending open grave was proposed with a reclining bronze statue of a woman, where the "depressed genius of Bohemia dreams his forced long sleep in swoon and gloom, conquered by violence whose traces remain even now". This motif of Bila hora was used by Sucharda also on his Palacky Monument and the tragic head of a genius with closed eyes was later erected even over his own gravesite on Vysehrad. However, Frantisek Bilek also reacted to the Bila hora tumulus project. In his manuscript notes on his own work assembled as late as 1940, he mentions that he refused Sucharda's proposal because he agreed neither with its form, which he considered to be influenced by Viennese Art Nouveau, nor especially with its contents, because "even in thought we cannot allow our home country to be in a grave!" He himself designed the monument as an invocation of Czech history appearing as a burnt offering on an altar, created by a large contour of national mythic figures, ascending from the arrival of Czechs through great royal personalities right to the leaders of the Hussite movement, collapsing to the fatal Bila hora. A large temple and staircase were conceived within the mass of the monument where between the statues of Humility and Purity a young man emerges, "who should set new history alight in one's vision". The proposal for the monument was modelled by Bilek on a one-to-one scale in the rooms of the Strahov Monastery in 1908. It is interesting that he had to interrupt the work there, being denounced for "memorializing" Hus. Bilek's unrealized National Monument was a remarkable version of the theme of a wave that belongs among the key concepts of Art Nouveau artists. Usually the wave was personified by a couple of male and female figures, as we know it from Rodin, Munch and Kupka or even Saloun. Bilek, however, conceives a group statue and, along with his refusal of monument conventions, also transforms the view of history, once embodied only in idealized figures of feudal sovereigns. In his comments on Sucharda's Bila hora tumulus, Wirth wrote: "This is how all modern monuments come into being: from history to a philosophical concept of the event

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Josef Vaclav Myslbek: Saint Wences las Monument, 3rd proposal , 1894, bronze , 107 cm, National Gal lery in Prague

-u;~

a. S charda: Oppression, Palacky Monument, 1912, Prague

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Stanislav Sucharda: Bila hara, Palacky Monument, 1912 , Prague

Stanislav Sucharda: Frantisek Palacky, Palacky Monument, 1912 , Prague

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Stanislav Sucharda: The Revivalist group, Palacky Monument, 1912, Prague

a Sue arda : Fama group, Palacky Monument, 1912 , Prague

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Ladislav Saloun : Jan Hus at the Stake, around 1903 , patinated plaster, 53 cm , private collection

='c- - , ='c- -",

ae

· Jan Hus - The Tree Hit by Lightening, Burnt tor Ages , 1901, patinated plaster, 87 cm, National Gallery in Prague

3' e : S e ches tor the Jan Hus Monument, around 1910, drawing in pencil, leaf from a sketch-book, private collection

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Frantisek Bflek: Master Jan Hus, 1914, ebony, 68 cm, National Gallery in Prague

Ladi sla v Sa loun : Jan Hus, Jan Hus Monument, 1915, Prague

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Lad islav Saloun: Group of Hussites, Jan Hus Monument, 1915, Prague

and from there to the artistic expression." Nevertheless, this "literary" procedure had already been breached by Art Nouveau sculptors precisely in their most interesting works by the new symbols of form. There suffices a quick comparison between Bilek's proposal and a sculpture which could not have had any direct connection to it, the study of the Great Hand by Josef Mafatka (1903), to see the obvious internal sources of the two works. It is also true, however, that in Rodin's studio, where Mafatka created his Hand, it was common to model even a tiny fragment of a hand to illustrate the symbolic theme of Fate. Nevertheless, there is a difference between Bilek's dynamic concept, unfolding a monument in its contours upwardly and horizontally, and Sucharda's centralizing concept respecting the quiet symmetry of the basic form, a difference that is already inherent in the contradiction between Sucharda's pessimism and Bilek's optimism. The founding idea of Sucharda's tumulus was the recollection of the execution site, with Bilek it was an altar of "burnt offerings". But these differences also have certain common foundations given within the entirety of Art Nouveau sculpture by a special position of funeral sculpture. Besides portraits, commissions of funeral sculpture represented the most continuous source of income for sculptors. However, it was not by far only this aspect which secured such an important position for funeral statues. The entire psyche of the times was fascinated by the theme of extinction and antithesis oflife and death, the perspective of which was afflicted by characteristic tones of pessimism and melancholic hopelessness. Some monuments, such as Kocian's Monument to The Sixth Huntsmen Battalion at the battlefield near Vysokov near Nachod (1906), were conceived in this spirit as a pronounced memento mori. Also Kafka's Embrace of Love and D eath (1906-1907), albeit lyrically softer, conveyed a suggestive message about the darkness of the grave. However, these rather morbid tendencies had deep significance for the sought-after possibilities for the revival of monument. In fact they also communicated a kind of return to the original starting points of monument as an artistic genre, a descent to the early resources of the meaning of the monument. The medieval monument was still a tomb and in its realization artistry served deeper thoughts than mere commemorative, celebrative and representative needs. In its way it participated in making physical the idea of the Resurrection, the metamorphosis of a body into a soul, an earthly life into an immortal one, victoriously eternal. Bilek's Crucifix (1896-99) represented an immediate restoration of these early religious ideas within the artistic context of the period. And even though other sculptors hardly shared Bilek's religious belief, they were, as we have already pointed out in connection to Bilek's conception of Jan Hus, still deeply influenced by his effort to provide a new perspective on the feelings of disillusionment, futility and guilt, a perspective which would redeem the psychic mush and existential difficulties of the modern situation. The effort to conceive a monument on an ideological basis led the Art Nouveau sculptors in a direction indicated by their psychic nature and relationship to reality. Their concept of personality made the civil virtues of the 19th century impossible to repeat. For their romantic hero, human society was a crowd milling about between the greatness of ingenious individuality and superhuman forces from which,

however, the individuality derives its vigour. The artists at the turn of the century interpreted genius in Kant's terms as an intelligence creating in a manner similar to nature. It was therefore also the natural world onto which their efforts were focused in a search to objectify concepts. In Saloun's Hus Monument in Hofice (1911-13) Hus was conceived, visually recalling Rodin's Balzac, more as a master of nature philosophy than a social reformer. Also the monument was not thought of in relationship to architecture but to artificially created natural environment. Its compositioned elements and artistic form now echo the early natural philosophical basis explaining the world, and its order, and consequently human beings from an interaction of fire, earth, water and air. Similarly Maratka's Proposal for the Monument to the Pioneer ofAviation, Santos Dumont (1903-1904 and 1908-1909) was also intuitively conceived in this spirit. Its courageous and completely unconventional form reaches a point where the traditional monument concepts were perhaps the most liberated in Czech Art Nouveau sculpture. Therefore it is not correct to consider the efforts of the generation of Art Nouveau sculptors in the field of the monumental sculpture to be fruitless as it generally has been passed down to our times. The results that it reached were unusual compared to the classical tradition, and they were creating a certain worldview as well as formal prerequisites from which modern art has already profited and still can. The task that the Art Nouveau sculptors set for themselves in the name of the renewal of monument was immense and in the end unmanageable in terms of a general acceptable design, due to the development of circumstances and the fact that they themselves did not want to or could not give up the figurative principle in design. That is also why most of them later returned to the tried-andtrue, in principle uncomplicated traditional conception. The efforts of their youth, even though not immediately followed and, on the contrary, over time strictly condemned, however conveyed a primary forming of the base of opinions by which the romantic tradition was transferred into the 20th century, posing insistent questions to modern art about the sense of the world and a human being.

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Josef Maratka: Portrait of Tereza Koseova, 1906-1909, plaster, 50 cm, National Gallery in Prague

P yc h o l o gical Reality

The following generations rebuked Art Nouveau sculpture for its naturalism 32 in which they found the main reason why it had not reached its goals and remained iinked to an individualistic form unsuitable for achieving the very artistic abstraction. These rebukes, including criticism of Art Nouveau subjectivism and the cult of organic form, were substantial because they were directed at one of the main fea tures of the art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The young generation movement of the 1890's really began with an admiration of naturalistic detail. The empty idealism of the late Classicism seemed to be denied by the new opinion emphasizing the strength of personal visual experience, first proven in the requirement for an exact depiction of a motif drawn from everyday life. This theme was previously exploited only in painting and photography that probably at that time gave direction to the "modern" way of seeing more than it has been assumed so far. In France this naturalism had had the character of a program already from the 1860's. In distinction to the former truthfulness, it was distinguished by being differently focused in terms of ideology. Because on this point it consistently departed from the requirements of previous clientele, it primarily meant a hunger for freedom for the artist, an attractive force that could be the only explanation why Impressionism was so loved and hated in those times. In the Czech milieu, which did not allow the artist to break free from social bonds, as it was possible in France, regardless if for existential reasons or for the artist's own internal censorship, these new naturalistic trends were first utilized for "patriotic" purposes. The originally romantic idea of the ethnic health and national genuineness of country people was re-evaluated using both an ideological program and illustrative and mimetically persuasive naturalistic forms. Large events, as for instance the Ethnographic Exposition of 1895 in Prague, influenced the taste and wishes of constructors and patrons to such an extent that several years later, when the authentic Art Nouveau architecture appeared, requiring a new concept for its sculptural accompaniment, it was necessary to rejoin the fight against previously adopted schemata. The vernacular sculpture of the 1890's gained warm acceptance from the critics. Renata Tyrsova wrote: "We recognize what is ours and feel where the charm is and what it is like. All of this will have a beneficial influence on our emancipation from run-of-the-mill foreign goods. There will not be so many plaster Fausts and Little Marguerites, Tells, jibbing horses etc. in our households because a need has been awakened to have something purely ours and distinctive and this need will spread further."33 From its very beginnings, Czech vernacular genre was thus subordinated to ideological views whose capacity was indeed completely contentious in an artistic sense. The most varied parasitic sentimentalities and sculptural trifles revealed that the genre was more likely a product of the late Biedermeier genre taking on a new face in the Czech milieu and elevated to a monumental program. Even though this initial "naturalism'', coloured by some Central European touches, soon had to loose its attractiveness for the artists, still its best works remain typical expressions of the 1890's, designating the entire structure of the Art Nouveau period as a time of its origins. Sucharda's Lullaby (1892) and

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-=' . ara a: Mother in Anguish, 1898, glazed ceramic, 65 cm, Museum of Decorati ve Arts in Prague

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Franti sek Bilek: My Mother, 1899, alder, 20x60 cm, Prague City Gallery, Bilek Vil la

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Psychological Reality

Ladislav Saloun: Proposal for the Erben Monument, 1900, destroyed

Hosek's Farewell (1895) reintroduced the lyricism of Manes and Myslbek as an crucial component in future development, maintaining the later internal continuity of Czech sculptural work. ' At the same time, it is characteristic that the scenes depicted in both works are intimate and emotional. In this sense, in the development of the entire vernacular theme and in its mature artworks, we can perceive a continuing shift from vernacular emblems and costumes towards topics which allow an unfolding of a psychological component. This happened either directly in works such as Mafatka's Mother in Worries (1898), or by moving the overall mode of expression towards the realm of fairy-tales, ballads and myths, as for instance in Sucharda's plaques Willow and Treasure (1897 and 1898) created after Erben. In this way the whole field of vernacular genre was gradually integrated into Art Nouveau sculpture itself, awakening its original romantic resources, concealed in its external descriptiveness but corresponding well with the intentions of Art Nouveau symbolism. This best demonstrates that the vernacular genre, in spite of its occasional even mechanical tendencies towards descriptiveness, was never in essence an authentic Naturalism. At the end of the 1890's there also appeared the so-called working themes in Czech sculptural production. They could have had greater claims for being labelled Naturalistic. Saloun's sculptures Founder (1898), Man at Work (1900) and Boatman (1913) mark the development of a theme that also derives from panoptic modelling, a fact demonstrating that the stimulae were drawn mainly from painting and grew a more summarizing and fluent sculptural form. This thematic type of Czech sculpture soon found its exemplar master in Meunier, as also proven by Astl's sculptures ( Thirst, 1905). In 1906, an extensive exhibition of Meunier's work was organized at the Rudolfinum in Prague under the care of Kunstverein fi.ir Bohmen Art Association. 34 Meunier's influence, first promoted by the Free Trends (issue 4, volume VII, January 1904), therefore did not stand at the very birth of these interests in sculptural depictions of working people and scenes. Later, it guided them but its semantic concept of the work motif could be applied here only due to the fact that even the first creations of Czech sculptors were not led by purely naturalistic interests. Saloun's Founder had another, symbolistic title From Day to Day, and his Man of Work can be also understood as a subconscious illustration of the Sysiphus myth. Sucharda's high relief entitled Sketch far a House of a Hyperproducer (1898), in which a crowd of workers angrily watch a scene where the vampire of capitalism sucks the blood of one of their comrades, so distinctly points to the fact that this group of the current Czech sculptural work was in fact subject to ideological initiatives. Naturalism in its own sense, in the original definition from Zola and the Impressionists, was probably more accessible only for the younger generation of Czech sculptors at the turn of the century. For instance, it was no accident that the Symbolist poet S. K. Neumann, then in the position of a visual art critic, designated Mafatka's Icemen (1900) as an instructive example of "mechanical, false realism". 35 Icemen was modelled after a live model and had no apparent ideological legend. The same was the case of little genre figures taken from daily life that were

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Psychological Reality

Otakar Spaniel: Jaroslav Vrchlicky , 1903, stamped plaque, bronze, 5.3x4.3 cm, National Gallery in Prague

sketched by Mafatka in Paris. In these quick transcriptions of visual experiences, an authentic Impressionism was first introduced into Czech sculpture. The only aim of the artist's vision became the "retinal picture". In this sense these minor figures represented a certain evolutionary step because they in fact opened the path for all later so-called "pure" art. Further development of Czech sculptural Impressionism was then connected with Otakar Spaniel's works created in Paris. On the Raft (1903 ), Embroideress (1904), Woman Washing Herself (1906), sports themes - Discus Thrower, Football Player,]umper (all 1907) and finally Bathing Women (1908) were, except for the first work, mostly cast plaques. Here the relief depicting momentary movement in everyday subjects was imbued with Impressionistic light as the main formal element providing the naturalistic picture with the freshness of a sketch. The impressionistic sketch was attractive due to its direct relationship to life. It recorded its flux and changes with a lightness free of all semantic obligations, as a powerfully present sensual fact. Therefore this exclusive empiricism was also a part of the program. The presence of the subject, its visibility, is provided by light. Without it the subject does not exist because it is not visible. Conceived this way, light indeed transfers the factual reality of an object into the "reality" of its vision. Therefore Impressionism is not descriptive, it does not deal with the whole thing but its method of seeing rather recalls the situation when the sharp light falling on an object suddenly reveals a newly perceived aspect of it, a profile which has the sharpness of a naturalistic detail, subordinate to the overall illumination and excited by it. That is also why in the subsequent development of Impressionism, it is light that becomes the main agent and not the subject which gets gradually absorbed and dematerialized by light. In this context, the impression becomes more and more an impression upon the senses, not focused on an individual object but on its connections to the environment. That is why the main representative of this sculptural Impressionism, Medardo Rosso, could finally write: "For me in art it is important to make matter forgotten. By summarizing his gathered impressions, a sculptor should communicate everything that has caught his own sensibilities so that when he finally looks at his work, he can experience the feeling he had while observing nature ... There is no matter in the space."36 This quotation from Rosso shows that in its effect Impressionism was one of the important bridges to modern art. However, Rosso's path from Naturalism to a luminous Symbolism (which led further on to Brancusi) was not followed by Czech sculpture even though there were several connecting points. Mafatka's further development was influenced by Rodin and his well-known statement "Chantez plus!" and Spaniel, who was completely taken by Bourdelle, later considered his Parisian plaques to be light mannerism.37 In the Czech milieu, the very concept of a sketch that at first sight seemed to be an Impressionistic endeavour, had a different meaning. As we have already commented on Sucharda's criticism of Myslbek, the sketch and the worship of it had its mission in revealing an emotion and not a sensual impression. Certainly, this difference is not absolute but it suggests a different understanding of artistic goals as well as the means for achieving them. The body of opinion, which formed

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Bohumil Kafka: Harvest, 1902 , bronze, 151x80 cm , National Gallery in Prague

the creative base of Czech sculpture at the turn of the century, was much more ideo-plastic in this direction than the original Impressionism. Its "literary character" represented a significant structural component that prevented the sculpture from proceeding in a truly Naturalistic-Impressionistic direction, including all the implications of subsequent development in the field, and led the sculpture, as we shall see later, to another concept that differed essentially from Impressionist monism. For these reasons the statement that Czech Art Nouveau sculpture, except for several inclinations or external resemblances, in reality was not Naturalistic in the original sense of the word, does seem to be legitimate The rebuke that we mentioned at the beginning of this chapter therefore had to relate to something else. It concerned the psychological content of this art. Undoubtedly it was individualistic. The feeling of antagonism between society and the artist, or at least between the ideals of the society and the artists, which stigmatized their psyche to its core, did not provide other perspectives than such an approach to reality which evaluated and perceived it from a personal viewpoint. It cannot see the reality as a whole but as the sum of phenomena that have to be evaluated individually. From this point the priority ensues for emphasizing the importance of the artist's personality. This was the motto of all the period aesthetics and poetry. Only from here is it also possible to explain the unusual boom in sculptural portraiture that was a product of these times. Myslbek's portraits were representative. The portraits created by his students were primarily intimate. The group of their patrons was not official, being mostly the Czech intelligentsia, and when Czech Art Nouveau sculpture found in plaques a vehicle for bringing the costs of the portrait production closer to the financial possibilities of the middle class, the common character of this enterprise was strengthened even more. The development of Art Nouveau portraiture runs from truthful descriptiveness to perceiving the head as an artistic organism. This gradual mastering of the form reflected a deeper and sharper sense for the very concept of a human personality. In this respect, young sculptors first drew on expressive accentuation. Kafka's portrait of Professor Antonin Frie (1902) depicts the distinguished natural scientist with an organic fossil formation and thus, in an interesting and sculpturaly relevant manner, highlights the topical ideas concerning the relationship of mankind to nature. At this point the young sculptors begin to elaborate new meanings that exceeded the scope of vivid plaques, usually drawn in profile, as created by Sucharda, Sejnost, Paukert and others. And it was Frantisek Bilek who contributed to the Art Nouveau portraiture in an original way. Bilek's portraits of his mother and father (1898) were conceived as sculptural components for his house at Chynov. This interesting integration of a portrait into architecture best shows the ideo-plastic sense of Bilek's concept. The portrait of his mother whose face emerges right from a natural chunk of wood, raw and covered with bark, situates the concept of Art Nouveau portraiture as a counterpoint to classical portraiture. Here again the integration of mankind and the universe is explicitly expressed through

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Bohumil Kafka: Cobblestone Laye rs, 1905, bronze, 53 cm, National Gallery in Prague

Otakar Spaniel: In the Bath, 1908, cast plaque , bronze, 22x21.5 cm , National Gallery in Prague

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Jan Stursa: Autumn, 1901, patinated plaster, 47 cm, National Gallery in Prague

Quido Kocian: Portrait of Jarosla v Kocian , 1899, patinated plaster, 60 cm , National Gallery in Prague

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Stan islav Sucharda: Child Portrait of Bozena Sommerschuhova, 1906, majolica, 39 cm, Nationa l Gal lery in Prague

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Stanislav Sucharda: Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Groh , 1904 , cast plaques, bronze , 8 cm, National Gal lery in Prague

Bohumil Kafka: Portrait of Professor Antonfn Frie , 1902 , bronze, 82 cm , National Gallery in Prague

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Bohumil Kafka: Portrait of Madelaine Aubry, 1908, bronze , 25x25 cm , National Gal lery in Prague

Stanislav Sucharda: Portrait ofVlasta Zindlova , 1911, cast plaque, white metal , 8.5x9 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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Bohumil Kafka : Portrait of Professor Josef Gruber, 1910, bronze , 34x30 cm, National Gal lery in Prague

the organic medium of nature. This idea creates a deeper semantic layer of Art Nouveau portraiture and provides a broader background for its individualism. Certainly it is not a coincidence that portraits of women represented the best works of the Art Nouveau portraiture. Bilek's portrait of his young spouse (1902/marble 1910) was a typical sample of such a portrait type. The tilted head emerging from a block of partially cut-off matter, long waving hair creating a long curve of motion, a soft shadow under her head and an absent-minded, bitterly longing facial expression, convey a psychic content that is inseparably linked with Art Nouveau female portraiture. Its nostalgia, stylizing the woman into a type of enchanted princess, was immense and fully corresponds to the motif of an infinite remoteness that we know from Art Nouveau painting, poetry as well as music. The intense feeling that mankind can be different, live elsewhere and in a different manner, is presented here not in the sphere of action but in the realm of imagination. The constraining absence of something important and great culminates in a feeling of spiritual desire underlined by the facial mimetic range and by the formal features of the statue. With other sculptors the psychic torment and visionary nature of Bilek's portraiture was shifted to more concrete vital values. Kafka's portraits of Mauclair (1906), Ema Destinovd (1908), Julie Hauner-Mrdzkovd (1909), and Marie Frankenberger-Brdlikovd (1911) represent a series in which the emotionally integrated form gains in vitality, intensified to the point of celebrating the beauty of matter, and finally to "lost-in-thoughts" portraits already signalling the restoration of the classical moment. The master piece of this portraiture field, largely indebted to Rodin, was Maratka's series of portraits of Tereza Koseovd (1906-1909). In this case, the requirement for a descriptive resemblance, as well as the expressiveness of the individual physiognomic features, remained in the background. It was only a departure point from which came Mafatka's effort to provide, through modelling freed of all instructions and intentions for content, a sensitive reflection of light on an emotionally naked face and the shape of the head. In these studies Mafatka after all did follow his earlier Impressionist intentions, bringing them to perfection in a sort of roundabout way through Rodin. This is how he arrived at the first expression of psychic automatism in Czech sculpture, relieved of the naturalistic character of the original Impressionism but retaining its principle of the uninvolvement of ideas. Also the individual personality of the person portrayed seems to be suppressed here to the benefit of free modelling. The role of the model is only that of a medium and the overall expression of the head has an almost somnambulist nature. The eyes are closing or just stare without a visual focus and the overall head form, corresponding to the shape of the hair-style, gradually becomes more simple and rounded in the following studies. At that time, Mafatka found himself in the same stream of thought as Rosso or Brancusi, without being familiar with these parallel efforts directed already towards avant-garde sculptural expression. In distinction to Parisian sculptors, who were soon to reach their goals (Rosso in Madame X of 1911, Brancusi in the Sleeping Muses series of 1906-10, leading to The Beginning of the World of 1942) by way of the luminous transparency

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Ladislav Jan Kofranek: Portrait of Vratislav Nechleba, 1906-1907, patinated plaster, 62 cm , National Gallery in Prague

of concrete shapes and their abstraction into a formal symbol of the ellipse and a mythic egg, Mafatka however stopped at a certain point in this development, not having the courage to step beyond the frontiers of the figurative standards. In consequence, he then began his return to the classical concept of the head, as displayed in his Intelligence of 1910. Mafatka's intensification of the psychological tone in Art Nouveau portraiture, even though not attaining the potential of the epoch, was made possible but also limited by the period of organic forms. In the Czech milieu, the theoretical background for this work was formed, based on "Fragments" from John Ruskin's books, published in a series in the Free Trends, 1898-99 volume. 38 The impression they made was magnified in that they provided the first, and for a long time the only, comprehensive visual art theory that Czech moderna adopted in its own selection. Ruskin interprets his views using an example of two primitive "barbarian'' works - an abstract schematic angel from an illuminated manuscript of the English insular school and the sculpture of Snake Tempting Eve from St. Ambrosius Church in Milan. For him the angel is a personification of dead barbarism because its creator did not take nature into consideration but only drew a contrived set of symmetrical geometrical forms. In his opinion, also Aristotle's principles of beauty - order, symmetry, and distinction - are similarly artistically hopeless. On the other hand, the sculpture from Milan, even though not skilled, is imbued with vital elements in their primal shape, and opens up the entire subsequent fertile development of European art. The ideal for its creator was neither correctness nor formal beauty, but reality. The primitive asymmetrical serpent embodies a sly heart, anger and temptation, and Eve is presented to visually display: "... that she is pleased at being flattered, and yet in a state of uncomfortable hesitation. And some look of listening, of complacency, and of embarassment she has verily got: - note the eyes slightly askance, the lips compressed, and the right hand nervously grasping the left arm: nothing can be declared impossible to the people who could begin thus - the world is open to them ... " In Ruskin's Romantic naturalism it was specifically sculpture which, in this sense, seemed to be the pivotal discipline because from it laid down the foundations for architecture, provided it did not later abandon itself to formalism. Medieval organic feeling for form was thus introduced as a new ideal, outweighing even the art of Greece through its combination of "the beauties of a lower, animal and floral nature with the beauty of a higher order' of the human form" in a linkage despised by Greeks but truthful from the viewpoint of Christian religion. Ruskin's opinion, based on his observations and comparisons, that art's love of nature is its vital force, went deep into the young sculptors' blood. Their tutors had already led them to studying the live model, but what Ruskin declared was like a new religion that fully corresponded with their outlook and explained life to them. On the same grounds it is solely possible to explain their relationship to Auguste Rodin. The first mention of Rodin in the Free Trends is from 1899. 39 It reflects the contradictions arisen around the statue of Balzac. But in the following year of 1900, when Rodin showed his work at the famous pavilion on Alma Square on the

occasion of the World Exhibition, this French sculptor already completely gained the trust and hearts of the leaders of the young Czech generation. That was also the time when Mafatka began studying in Rodin's studio and the contacts so directly established then led to publishing a double-issue of the Free Trends devoted to the work of Rodin in 1901. Finally, a vast exhibition of the master's statues and drawings was organized in the new Manes exhibition pavilion in the Kinsky Gardens in 1902. Along with Rodin's visit to Prague and Moravian Slovakia, this event grew right to a nation-wide manifestation. 40 By these avenues came the powerful influence of Rodin. In Czech sculpture it had a completely exclusive position culminating in the middle of the first decade of the new century. Rodin embodied the Messiah of sculpture and hardly anybody resisted the suggestive sentences of Salda's introductory essay in the exhibition catalogue: "Rodin has found the mother tongue of sculpture which has been lost for the whole century and which, even though it has not completely vanished, timidly trickled along a thin, underground thread, often interrupted, in works of several truly creative sculptors of the nineteenth century: with Rodin, after centuries, all its related hot springs have again sprung out and gushed through a feverish volcanic artery... only the revived can understand those reviving and respond to them, only those who themselves will be revived through them. The artist's mother tongue of genius can be responded to again only by another mother tongue: you have to find its metal language in your depths." 41 Salda thus already indicated what aspects of Rodin's work were to be adopted. He even said that Rodin's sculpture could be compared to the faces of Great Mothers to whom Goethe's Faust descended into the Earth's womb to obtain the highest initiation in the mysteries of existence. In Rodin's sculptures the ancient forces of life and fate sound in their basic tones on which they are vaulted and by which they gain their rhythm. His poetic speech thus drew attention to the psychological essence of Rodin's art, in complete accordance with the discoveries and views of in-depth psychology that was being formulated by Sigmund Freud precisely at that time. These views and aims were not in contradiction with the Naturalistic tendencies of the 1890's, on the contrary, they legitimately grew from them and in return also demonstrated which naturalism was fertile at the end of the 19th century and could be further developed. If we, for instance, compare Hergesel's Ploughing in the Krkonofe (1891) and Bilek's sculpture Ploughing is a Punishment for Our Guilt (1892), we will not find many differences between them from a naturalistic viewpoint. But they essentially differ in terms of content, that is, in the direction where their naturalistic focus is aimed. Hergesel dwells upon the surface of life, detailed description of costumes and tools. We could possibly grant him even a "social" interest in the daily life of working people, a sort of reportage which, however, does not relate to the whole human being. It only grasps the life-style of a particular social class with which nevertheless the artist does not directly identify. In contrast, Bilek's rough naturalistic truth of a thin nude crawling on deserted parched ground is in full service of expression, its meaning is symbolic. It allows one to form an opinion about the whole world and in this sense it is undoubtedly

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also more fertile in terms of art. Next to these two perspectives of the period Naturalism, one caught up in descriptiveness and the other supplied with moralistically oriented meaning, still appeared a third possibility in Rodinian sculpture. From the viewpoint of the much sought after program, Rodin's style was very appealing already for its complexity. It encompassed all previous development in sculpture, both its themes and its form, whose sensualism crowned the develop.m ent started in the 19th century after overcoming Neo-Classicism. NeoBaroque and expressive elements, which were very lively in Rodin's work, exceptionally suited Czech sculptors and related to the revival of the local Baroque tradition. Also Rodin's empiricism conformed to the naturalistic bent of young Czech sculptors. They soon realized that the period criterion of "the real" meant for Rodin not only the theme or the imposing illustration, which often in works of French academics was not far from wantonness, but that it organically imbued the entire · creative process and concept. That is also why they were able to appreciate Ro din's drawings of a freely moving nude model which were not understood by broad audiences at all. In fact they also held a key to Rodin's sentence that in studying nature, it is necessary to proceed to the very end. 42 In his article in the double-issue of the Free Trends devoted to Rodin, Sucharda paid well-deserved attention to these drawings pointing out the fact that "truthful movements" here do not arise from imitative proficiency but "they are the consequences of Rodin's sense for human passion, for those images of love and pain, despair and hope, self-denial and contempt, which torment the human body." 43 In this sense, Rodin was really understood in this country and the Naturalism of the 1890's was thus reversed from the external to the internal, towards the psychophysical connections. Rodin's statement that only life deserves the name of beauty4 4 was important in that it significantly liberated the artistic creative process from both the ideological and mimetic dictates. Rodin's free drawing of the nude, introduced into Czech art by Maratka and also practiced by Kafka and later by Stursa, was not directly related to sculpture; statues were not modelled on it. The drawing, however, exceptionally liberated the sculptor's imagination concerning movement and, at the same time, anchored it in reality. It allowed the creation of motifs of movement that were then subconsciously applied in the sculptural work itself, as proven with Rodin's Gates ef Hell. This method corresponds with Freud's metaphor of the subconscious as a boiling pot, in a swirl bringing up fragments to the surface. Only there can our consciousness grasp them to create a coherent interpretation of the world. That is precisely what Salda had in mind in his mentioned essay when he wrote that "all of Rodin's art is from the primal hand." Therefore, after Bilek's lessons, the naturalism of Czech Art Nouveau sculpture was finally transformed by Rodin's influence into a tool which opened a path for an already truthfully modern concept of a creative process emphasizing visual intuition. Possibly only one apriori remained here: emotional human nature. For young sculptors it now became the main source of meaning of the term "reality". Their statues were dominated by dramatic expression, intensified even to the convulsions in Kafka's Parisian sculptures. In contrast to that, melancholic tender-

ness marked the areas of quiet and hidden desire in the work in stone, as was the case of Stursa. An abyss opened on erotic themes, most sensitively reflecting the period problems of the relationship between man and woman. Demons stepped out from the depths of instinct and the subconscious, as in the work of Kocian. Psychological experience, transformed into figure with the aid of freely conceived mythological, literary and "universal" themes, became content for creative work. The emotional impression from which a statue arose, was considered as an obvious psychological fact, an indestructible fundamental of every sculptural rule. The theory of proportion and composition was thus practically dismissed and the dominion of organic principle opened up exclusively in the area of sculptural form. The sculptural matter became a product and imprint of psychic emotion and its expressiveness sometimes reached almost an informal level. The naturalism of the nude was not enough for sculptors any longer and concrete objects entered sculpture, for instance in Bilek's works ( Golgotha). Thus over the course of several years Czech sculpture courageously overcame the framework of common sculptural convention and opened itself to new possibilities for expression leading to an authentic modern expression. But these discoveries also began to be regulated by an idea of a new style.

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Bohumil Kafka: Tomb relief, 1903, bronze, 172x96 cm , National Gallery in Prague

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In term of its consequences, psychological naturalism led to a subversion of reYiou classical norms. In its immediate expressions, especially in the numerous : ·etche and studies by which an ability for variations was unusually developed, it n-pre sively exploded in dramatic modelling and personal style. But it is not po ible to deny that in the overall character of sculpture at the beginning of the 20th century, another basic feature of Naturalism prevailed, essentially contradicting the first one. While expressive components of this opinion could be labelled as subjectively decentralizing, diluting the material in emanations of emotional energy, Art Nouveau sculptors missed neither the trend to centralization nor the new assembling of material which was just emerging as a style creating tendency. The Art Nouveau statue is distinguished by its organic shape fundamentals usually being stylized. This dichotomy creates its essential characteristics and attractiveness in a mutual relationship between decentralizing and constitutive forces. The ambitions of the generations working at the turn of the century were to give their times a new "valuable art" and create a particular style for it. In this sense the young artists' movement was alienated from the previous ideal, that is, Art Nouveau in the broader sense of the word. In the Czech milieu, where the legacy of radical Baroque still rules in sculpture, strong expressive components were participating in the process towards achieving a new style. Already in the middle of the 1890's, before the arrival of Art Nouveau as a new decorative style in Prague, these trends, known as Neo-Baroque (Sucharda's medal History, 1896), were focused on the objectification of the style. In this direction they also found support in decorative function in architecture. The Baroque expressiveness of these decorations then completed a circle of historical styles, characteristic of the 19th century. The buildings of Bedrich Ohmann, who brought a new initiative into Czech architecture then drowning in Neo-Renaissance convention, relied on the rich participation of decorative sculpture and painting. 45 The main novelty of the NeoBaroque concept was that, compared to the additive perception of the relationship of sculptural components in Neo-Renaissance work, it emphasized an effort for their unification and interconnection into one entirety which was best described by Wolfflin's terms painterliness, depth, open forms, overall unity, and the relative clarity of objects. 46 A statue on a facade ceased to be perceived as an individual decorative element, still visible on the Prague Municipal Savings Bank built in 1891-94. Here Myslbek's students, Hosek and Stransky, contributed with the vernacularly conceived allegories of Industry and Ploughing. Later on, statue stood out of its niche, which had previously defined its limited space in the scheme of the facade, becoming a relief which independently highlighted the building, spreading across its surface. In addition to allegorical figures, the facade was covered by favourite decorative emblems that attained fresh and rhythmic ornamentation by adopting Art Nouveau floral decor. Professor Celda Kloucek taught this method of decoration at the Prague School of Applied Arts and his students adorned a number of Prague facades at the beginning of the 20th century. 47 The assembly installed on the stone front of the Prague Credit Bank (registration no. 377, Old Town) built in 1902 by architect Matej Blecha, became a representative type of Kloucek's concept of Art Nouveau

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facade. Typical was his symmetrical placement of decorative motifs which did not deny their roots in the historical Renaissance- Baroque tectonic scheme of the facade. The naturalistically revitalized plasticity of the decorative elements was new. The individualized type of mascaron, a juicy floral component inspired by domestic flora, emblems with linearly suggestive serpents or inscriptions in non-classical letter types would become standard decoration for hundreds of new apartment and public buildings quickly rising in the central quarters of the city which had opened up due to a plan for vast slum clearance. The majority of these decorations, which had spread out across even satellite parts of Prague and the Czech countryside in the first decade of the new century, were executed in cheaper stucco that better suited typical trends to make the facades picturesque. So the Art Nouveau building could display the lively colourfulness that brought it close to an Art Nouveau poster. In this sense facades designed by the most active architect of the Prague Art Nouveau, Osvald Polivka, excelled (such as Topic Building, reg. no. 1010, Old Town, of 1905-1906, and especially the Insurance Company Building Prague, reg. no. 1011, Old Town, of 1906-1907, where Saloun took an important role with his large coloured ceramic reliefs). An important circumstance of Art Nouveau's arrival as a decorative style in architecture and the applied arts in Prague was that it was adopted like any other earlier style even though it had the aura of modernity. Sculptors were confronted by the Art Nouveau decorative system as a given thing, brought to their attention by Ohmann's students who had replaced Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo by a variation of Viennese Art Nouveau following their tutor's initiatives. In the first competition proposal for the Palacky Monument (1898), Sucharda's sculpture was still Neo-Baroque while Dryak's architecture was already Art Nouveau. These circumstances probably had considerable influence on the overall character of the relationships that young sculptors had to the Art Nouveau decorative system and which must also have had some consequences from the viewpoint of their own particular needs for a style. So this factor of adoption considerably obscured the question of truly understanding the system not only in its individual forms but mainly in its overall visual and artistic style. A great contribution by the sculptural element is characteristic in the overall nature of decoration in Czech architecture in the Art Nouveau period, especially compared to other European centres of this style, including Vienna. Primarily on the more ostentatious public buildings such as the Franz Joseph I Train Station, today's Main Train Station, by Josef Fanta (1900-1909) or the representative Municipal House by Antonin Balsanek and Osvald Polivka (1906-12), the sculptural decoration was extraordinarily rich and leading sculptors such as Stanislav Suchatda, Ladislav Saloun, Bohumil Kafka, and others participated in these projects. At the same time, in these more demanding assemblages, considerable tension is apparent between the more or less planar perceived decorative elements, freely repeated in symmetrical groups, and dominant figures, mostly powerfully sculpturally developed, significantly emerging from these groups and often expressively and literally opening the enclosed outline of the decorative whole. The simplest explanation for this situation is that these figural components carried important

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Celda Kloucek: Decoration s of the Prague Credit Bank. detail , 1902, ston e. Prag e

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u,eau mas s

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o~s: Facade of th e Central Hotel , 1900, Prague

::,:;,- s a, Sucharda: Facad e of the building reg. no. 761/11, 1906, Prague a • ouce : Facade of th e Prague Credit Bank, 1902 , Prague - - - c'lous: Facade of the buil ding reg. no . 927 / 1, after 1900, Prague

i eolo!!ical content. For example, on the portico of the Municipal House a group

o - _ one statues by Ladislav Saloun called Humiliation and Revival of the Nation at the sides of the predominantly exposed arch of the central dome exedra. I wa a favourite ideological contradiction which particularly originated in the monument tradition. But also where there was no such ideological motivation, such the large allegorical statues by Saloun and Sucharda at the entrance columns of the Main Train Station building, the sculptural monumentality is almost disproportionate to the decorative task. The same can be noted in the metamorphosis of the mascaron motif where the individualized lyrical faces introduced by Kloucek's school were easily transformed into pathetic masks like those on the Municipal House in the work of Karel Novak. Novak had already decorated the Hilbert Building (reg. no. 234/II) in 1905 where he comprehended the naturally demonic aspect of this plasticity especially in the window-ledges decorated with the motif of fantastic insects. This development in mascaron culminated in Saloun's cryptoportrait of Schopenhauer used as a mask on the entrance of a newly built sculptor's studio (1911), where the erotic nude testifies to the libidinous essence of these expressions. The Art Nouveau style itself, paradoxically, was more apparent where strong sculpture personalities were not active and where the stucco modeller gave more respect to the architect's scheme for the facade. In these cases mascaron would give up its traditional place on a pronounced architectural component such as an arch stone or a console, and would move into the centre of the ornamental field repeated across the plane of the facade. Such uniform coverage of the facade by Art Nouveau stucco decor is characteristic for large apartment buildings built in the slum cleared quarters of Prague's Josefov and Old Town at the very beginning of the first decade (reg. no. 14/V, 907/I, 924/I) . In the symmetrical layout of planes the mask was again rather idealized in terms of content even though it usually did not loose its modern sensuality. In this fashion it expressed the typical narcissistic dominance of its Art Nouveau character. This situation reached an extreme where the mask vanished from the field (as in the ornamental cartouches on the apartment building reg. no. 1078 designed by architect Bendelmayer in 1903-1904). The ornamental field thus changed into a mirror, transparent in content but still preserving the two-dimensional character of the principle of Art Nouveau stylistic principle. There also existed a certain reservation on the side of painters and sculptors against the style dictates of a decorative art that could also be heard in the Free Trends. This differed from the willingness to adopt the Art Nouveau vocabulary as a foundation for a new style, represented mainly by Sucharda whose post of professor at the School of Applied Arts finally directly led him to work with the promoters of the new decorative style, and by Kafka before his Parisian period. The most interesting and most stylish display of the Art Nouveau decorative system was undoubtedly the so-called Belgian line, the peak of the graphic development of the 1890's. It was first mentioned in the Free Trends in 1901, in an article on interior architecture. The entire manner of interpretation was very typical of the current views of the Czech moderna. The article reads: "The teachings

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about the beauty of a pure, abstract line to which every constructive principle is directed, is quite consistently used by Van de Velde even where he allows ornamentation, primarily with pattern. He tries to make the line a means of artistic expression as a line winding and oscillating without meaning, not recalling any floral or faunal motif He walks along the same paths that Belgian Symbolist poets had take.n before him, composing poems not according to the poetic content of sentences but purely according to the abstract, phonetic sound of their words; they believe that in doing this they touch the much finer aspects of aesthetic feeling and that is also what is assumed by Van de Velde's school that (... ) the truly noble aesthetic needs are achieved only through such an abstract symbolic speech of the line and must be perceived by some kind of musical feeling. To be honest, here we find only a self-focusing limitation on the means of expression made into a principle, but which will, however, inevitably lead to a fleshless schematization due to its unilateral emphasis on constructive form, on the one hand, and on this abstract speech of a line, on the other hand." 48 This condemnation of the Belgian line was not caused by a lack of information but by a difference in opinions. Its abstract style was considered to be an attack on the principle of individuality and even the particular national foundations of art itself It even seemed to endanger not only these two taboos but also the deeper foundations of concept of art as such. To understand this aversion to stylistic abstraction, which we must respect as a historical fact, we have to again turn to John Ruskin's "Fragments" published in the Free Trends, already designated as the first and founding visual art theory for Czech Art Nouveau. So far we have quoted only its first part, emphasizing the primary relationship to nature dictates of the organic character of the art form. However, Ruskin further elaborates the Romantic-Naturalistic law of the "love of nature", stating: "But do not mistake me by supposing that I mean this law to be all that is necessary to form a school. There needs to be much superadded to it, though there never must be anything superseding it. The main thing which needs to be superadded is the gift of design .. . the statement of the great collateral necessity of truth, governs all noble art. The collateral necessity is the visible operation of human intellect in the presentation of truth, the evidence of what is properly called design or plan in the work. .. Remember therefore always, you have two characters in which all greatness of art consists: First, the earnest and intense seizing of natural facts; then the ordering of those facts by strength of human intellect, so as to make them, for all who look upon them, to the utmost serviceable, memorable, and beautiful."49 Ruskin's "design" related to both the artistic means as well as thought. Its aim was to provide good form to fundamental empiricism which did not lack the Romantic character of the religiously exalted feeling of unity with nature as the most perfect piece of work. Therefore abstraction was only a consequence, best specified in Ruskin's thought concerning the important relationship of his theory to the applied arts:" ... Truth first - plan, or design, founded thereon: ... But a difficulty arises when you come to examine the art of a lower order, concerned with furniture and manufacture, for in that art the element of design enters without, apparently, the element of truth. You have often to obtain beauty and display

Ladislav Saloun: Decorations of the Insurance Company Prague, 1906-1907 , glazed ceramics, Prague

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Karel Novak: Decorations of the building reg. no. 234/ 11, 1905, Prague

invention without direct representation of nature. Yet, respecting all these things also, the principle is perfectly simple. If the designer of furniture, of cups and vases, of dress patterns, and the like, exercises himself continually in the imitation of natural form in some leading division of his work; then, holding by this stem of life, he may pass down into all kinds of merely geometrical or formal design with perfect safety, and with noble results. Thus Giotto, being primarily a figure painter and sculptor, is, secondarily, the richest of all designers in mere mosaic of coloured bars and triangles; thus Benvenuto Cellini, being in all the higher branches of metal-work a perfect imitator of nature, is in all its lower branches the best designer of curve for lips of cups and handles of vases ... "so Ruskin's esteemed sentences influenced one of the important problems of Czech Art Nouveau sculpture, its relationship to abstract concept and formal formula precisely at the time when the Art Nouveau style decorative system appeared in the Czech environment. The reality is that the values of the style did not penetrate into Czech Art Nouveau sculpture directly from the contemporary decorative system. Examples where a typical decorative curve would appear in free sculptural work were rare, and the shape of the line was very individualistic and non-schematic. Saloun's late line in the Hus Monument had an ideo-plastic origin and repeated the paraphrase of the waves whirling around the cliff in the figurative scene up on the monument. The linearly stylized flying hair of the little girls on Kafka's Tomb Reliif (1903) could most likely be derived from Preisler's pictures. It was certainly so for Sucharda. Bi'.lek's curves pointed to the pre-Raffaelites, even to Blake. These circumstances indicate that the trends in style of Czech sculptors were anchored in something else than only a fashionable formal scheme. They undoubtedly originated in the sculptors' own psychic needs and in this sense they were authentic. But at the same time they did not exclude themselves from contemporary efforts for integrating artistic expression, which also seemed to provide support to their individual development since it balanced the individualistic factor inherent in the period Naturalism with an opportunity to participate in a collective program and its formal artistic symbols. The relationships of Czech sculpture at the turn of the century to the decorative Art Nouveau system should be seen in a rather complicated context which was also developing in its own manner. Only in 1903 did something of a manifesto for Czech linear Art Nouveau come into existence in the article by Salda called Sense of Today's so-called Renaissance in the Art Industry. 51 In the article the difference between the so-called "high" art, i.e. paintings and sculptures, and the "low" art, i.e. applied art, was expressly refused to the benefit of style as a term of unity of a culture whose foundation was the "permanent relationship to and consideration of the whole where nothing lives for itself to the debit of other elements or parts of them but for them and in harmony with them ... style is not a material limitation or isolation but the awareness of a spiritual whole, the awareness of the rhythmic life of eternity, yielding to it and merging with it." The whole and unity were characterized as an organism, life and its laws, rhythmic line, symbolic linkage and conditionality, all completely within the objectives of linear

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Ladislav Saloun: Model of a mask above the entrance to the sculptor's studio , 1911 , destroyed

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Stanislav Sucharda: Decorations of the New Town Hal l, 1911 , stone, Prague

Art Nouveau and its formal symbols. Only based on this understanding of the style could a truly fertile exchange and cooperation develop between applied arts and architecture on one side and sculpture on the other. Its value depended on the presence of true artists, especially in the personality of the architect. Jan Kotera was such a personality. When he came to Prague in 1899 after his Viennese studies with Ott,o Wagner, he became a professor at the School of Applied Arts and the Manes Association welcomed him with an encouraging article in the Free Trends.5 2 The following year Kotera built an apartment building on Wenceslas Square no. 12 and it demonstrated that the welcome was not wrong. It was the first authentic Art Nouveau building in Prague. On its facade Kotera utilized restrained linear decorations which truly corresponded with the clean surfaces of the walls. From the viewpoint of the relationship between the building and contemporary sculpture the most interesting thing was not only the sensitive placement of two relief allegorical figures by Pekarek and Novak but primarily the proportions of the structural material distinguished by its striking verticality still underlined by the high and large apertures of the business offices on the ground floor. It is possible to say that Kotera's house was a so-called organic architecture53 , since to a considerable degree it was sculpturally shaped, like a statue. Kotera's principle of the relation between architecture and sculpture was therefore deeper than that of those architects who only adopted the Art Nouveau morphology and understood statue to be a mere decorative element. It could be labelled a principle of resonance and it was also the only method that has yielded positive results in the 20th century. Based on these principles, the best realizations of Czech Art Nouveau came into being, such as Kotera's interior for the St. Louis Exhibition (1903), where Sucharda participated with his relief Prague and Vltava, or Kotera's later structures in Prostejov and Hradec Kralove. The verticality of Kotera's building on Wenceslas Square had a direct parallel in the figurative canon of young Czech sculpture as it developed during the 1890's. Compared to the earlier Classicist and Realistic canon as used by Levy and Myslbek, which in essence consisted of the old practice of writing the human figure into a circle or square, from the beginning of the 1890's, a new canon began to be formulated, elongating the figure, especially in the concept of the head, in effect inscribed within an ellipse. It is not easy to decide where this change appeared for the first time. Even Myslbek is not excluded from the role of initiator. His first sketch for Music, in the draped variation of 1892, displayed this elongation and egg-shaped head, which is however exceptional, given all of Myslbek's work. Nevertheless, this first sketch was undoubtedly his closest work to Art Nouveau, at the time of its origin strongly influencing his students. The sculptor himself finally repudiated it as "worse in the execution'' and in terms of concept "poetic, that is true, but unhappy in plasticity".s 4 Therefore the classical view won over the misgivings. If it would be possible to designate Myslbek as the unaware initiator of the new concept of figure then it is necessary to add that his students grasped this change very quickly and with conviction. The female head in Sucharda's Lullaby of the same year 1892 conveys this typical feature of a relatively narrow and elongated head. Frantisek Hosek

followed with his Little Wireworker (1892). The entire sculptural decoration of the Prague Municipal Savings Bank, a sample of Myslbek's students' work, was already stamped by this more fragile lyrical concept of the figure. The phenomenon also spread to Josef Mauder, of an older generation, whose work was reproduced in volume I of the Free Trends probably for this reason, and who also later maintained certain contacts with Art Nouveau sculpture (Zeyer's Monument in Prague in Chotek Gardens, 1913). However, it was 01iido Kocian who really transposed the "long" canon of the 1890's into the area of Art Nouveau sculpture itself. His Sarka (1897) was a summation of previous developments in the subtle girlish type of soft lyrical modelling, animated by long folds of drapery drawn out to its edges, thus emphasizing the essentially linear construction of the sculptural volumes. Kocian's works around 1900 displayed this sentimental drawn-out modelling, also reflected in his nearly mannerist canon for the bodies of his figures. The same factor could be noted with Stursa in his work Life Escaping (1904) and Puberty (1905) and also in Kafka's Parisian sculptures modelled in 1905-1906. Similarly in the work of Frantisek Bilek, a gradual elongation of the figure had already occurred in the 1890's and reached a peak in his Amazement (1907). Further on this formal problem was again elaborated in Gutfreund's Hamlet (1911-12). At this point, it abandoned the historical field of Art Nouveau and entered the arising avant-garde sculpture, obviously as one of its important impulses. This long process essentially transformed the idea of statue-figure by liberating it from the classical ideal and the realistic criterion and by turning it into a theme which served the execution of the sculpture. The process was summarized in terms of its theoretical maturity by the term "line", which we often meet in contemporary statements about sculpture. Bilek commented on his Golgotha of 1892: "My effort was to express the thing, the idea already in the lines."55 Similarly Rodin talked about the "good lines" in Balzac56 and, when the double-issue devoted to Rodin appeared in the Free Trends, it was possible to read in several places about the importance of line: Alexandre, when defending the sculptor's dramatic expression, asked: "Is it not true that movement creates also unexpected lines, as beautiful as those that are created in abstract motionlessness?" 57 Mauclair again supported the effectiveness of the lines in Balzac58 and Sucharda quoted a passage by Rodin which best elucidated the term from the viewpoint of artistic focus: "My main modelling consists in it and it would be less if I seemed to execute more. As for the glazing and polishing of the toes or hair ringlets, it has no weight in my eyes, compromising the main idea, the great line, the soul of what I wanted, and I have nothing more to say about it to the audience."59 Therefore line was not something exactly specified like a formal element. It meant liberation from detail, a generalization of form in terms of expression directly serving the universal orientation of the work. Otokar Brezina wrote in his Meditation about the Beauty of Art: "... art in the same way as life is a rule of law over chaos, a language that has been forming for ages, a line that defines still further than nature ... "60 The connection of life and art in language, in line, here involuntarily corresponds closely to Rodin's method in which he described

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sculpture in terms of drawing and drawing in sculptural terms (lines and profiles).61 We can also note a certain development in the definition of line as it was used in this non-systematic but intensive manner. It is precisely here where its styleforming effectiveness can be observed. Line, as in Rodin's free drawing, served to grasp "true movement", a corporeal expression of passion and emotion. However, it was also understood as a language, an artificial system which not only captured emotion but developed it further into broader communicative relationships and connections. Only in these connections did the definition of line obtain its particular stylish, truly Art Nouveau character. This process of objectifying the means of expression, which primarily appeared in the field of artistic intuition, led to a style as a typical system of forms. The requirement of style was completely natural and in principle it did not differ from psychological naturalism which could be designated as the emotional foundation of sculpture at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. More likely it was linked to it, creating art from it. In this sense, however, the path from a line of "truthful movement" to a stylish line was not direct and statues were not modelled on free drawings. Such drawing was too naturalistically alive and Protean for this purpose and so even Bilek wrote that "it is not possible to start sculpting from drawings at all". 62 Out of necessity the idea was inserted between the naturalistic drawing and a statue, which was born in a "literary" manner at the beginning of Art Nouveau, while later had a formal artistic character. The same is also true for the international development of the Art Nouveau style, if we consider it from Blake's "springs of life" to van de Velde's Belgian line. Frantisek Bilek, who could be considered an exemplary type of Art Nouveau artist63 , perceived line in a literally ideo-plastic fashion . This meant spiritual embracement for him.64 Bilek's genius involved his having an ideological program that almost always found the original formal means corresponding to it. Bilek's lines enclosing the outline of a statue were the most stylish Art Nouveau within Czech sculpture at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Other sculptors easily succumbed to the expressive, initially Neo-Baroque style and subsequent expressionistic trends, opening the statue too far in their spirit where the authentic Art Nouveau approach required a fluent restraint in its contour. These contradictions were also present in Rodin's work, established in such works as the NeoBaroque Call to Arms (redrawn by Jiranek for the Rodin double-issue of the Free Trends) on one side, and in Danaid or Balzac on the other. The trend to closing the contours and linking the profile lines of a statue is in fact an expression of the struggle for a closed system. Besides Bilek, this mission for line in Czech Art Nouveau sculpture was consistently respected by Jan Stursa in Melancholic Girl (1906). The great response to this statue meant that the young sculptor, more or less intuitively, grasped the exact formal structure that corresponded to the needs of the period. The later date of Stursa's statue corresponds to the situation when the ideo-plastic foundation of Czech Art Nouveau symbolism, previously frozen by Bilek's influence, had been considerably liberated towards a more abstract formal concept which had been still strictly refuted in Velde's Belgian line five years earlier. In its soft and sensual linear treatment of

volume the compos1t10n of Melancholic Girl is close in many aspects to the ele2"antly pulsing Belgian line. Both expressions have a shared sense of artistic refinement, but the statue is depictive and, albeit unlimited in sentiment, it does not transgress the mimetic laws set by Plato. On the other hand, in 1897 van de \'elde published the following appeal in the magazine Pan: "Lines and colours have o be fo und in which the forms of reality are virtually contained and are metaphysically much more real than all the weak reflections of wisdom and the Plato's ideas, modified fqr imitation." This program for organic abstraction exceeded the framework of Art Nouveau art, focusing towards the aesthetics of a future artistic avant-garde. In this sense van de Velde could also later declare that "I have built an experimental, quasi-scientific formula to oppose Ruskin's formula of religious exaltation."65 Indeed, in Czech Art Nouveau too, the issue of so-called pure, absolute art was now available. But within this, it was thoroughly connected with its expressive trends, or more exactly, with their specific focus. Efforts by the Manes Association for a program at the beginning of the new century took French art as its example for reasons that were elucidated by Salda in the introduction to the exhibition catalogue of Modern French Art (autumn 1902): "In our country as well as elsewhere almost all art - and by the best measure - has been more or less improvised. In France ... art was sought and was found ... the French artist expansively creates an individual of himself, an artistic character: to develop all the possibilities that he feels within himself, to take them as the material for an artistic life, crystallize them into well defined edges, a beautiful, striking and signature shape ... French art is a continuous line, compared to it other art is only a row of points full of holes." According to Salda, this entire dynamic development could be seen as an experiment, undertaken again and again. "In France every stronger spirit has the courage to see with his own eyes, to vibrate and be excited with his own sensitivity and perceptiveness from the theatres of nature and life, to be on fire with his own imagination, in a word: to live from himself and for himself, to live freely from the worship of his own powers, to develop himself and search on his own and if not, it is better to fall and die of one's own accord than to live a wretched existence in the shadow of another person, possibly bigger and more godly." This enthusiastic concept of an experiment did not quite correspond with French practice. Mallarme gave a typical sentence valid for the essence of original French Symbolism: "I found out and continue to find that there is no value in writing from pure enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is not the mental approach of a writer." 66 In this respect the Czech viewpoint was still under the dictates of a certain colouring focused on emotional totality. So Salda could understand the main requirement of Impressionism as a world-shattering modern artistic experiment in which "the picture, although possibly limited to a small corner of a country, should not render it closed and tight nor finished in terms of material and plasticity, but lit by an immensity of air and atmosphere, illuminated by the cosmic lyricism of light quivering with the vibration of infinity and open to all the affinities of the cosmos ... "67 This pantheistic extension of the definition of Impressionism was the initial point of its transference onto all Czech Rodinian sculpture. During this

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process, only some aspects were taken from Rodin which corresponded to local traditions. It was no wonder that in 1905 when this entire "Impressionistic" excess came to a peak, it was possible to read in the Free Trends on the occasion of a review of the famous book of Julius Meier-Graefe, History of the Development of Modern Art, which put all the emphasis on French "pure" painting, that the picturesqueness of modern sculpture was linked to its Baroque accents. 68 The sculptural counterpoint to these opinions which, on behalf of Impressionism, claimed to divest sculptural expression of all subordinate ideological ingredients, to model air and change statue into "musical sculpture", was a series of Kafka's sculptures originating from his Parisian stay (1905-1906). They too display a liberation from all previous statutory rules, denying the law of gravity (Somnambulist), maximally opening sculptural form right to its subversion (Madness), intensified sensualism and free modelling dictated only by a psycho-physical emotion. Kafka opened the gates for sculptural expressionism, a path along which Saloun would travel most consistently. Outside of the continuation and results of this sculptural "Impressionism'', Kafka's statues displayed one more of their developmental connections, this time leading to avant-garde sculpture. Their will towards chaos already contained the germs of a new form. Light, significantly utilized within "Impressionistic" picturesqueness, and demateralization fall on their surfaces in intense spots and small planes which later developed into similar but more abstract modelling in Gutfreund's Hamlet (1911-12). In Kafka's "Impressionistic" statues a principle of planes arose or asserted itself, which later had such an importance in the development of Cubism. The reality that, independent of Kafka, these autonomizing planes appeared also from around 1905 in Sucharda's plaques (Portrait ofMadame H, 1905; Portrait ofV. Zindlovd, 1911), is proof that these Art Nouveau resources were not only individualistic but also symptomatic. Indeed, Gutfreund brought his associations to this unclear trend in late Art Nouveau sculpture with an important jump in quality because he transferred it from subconsciousness to conscious artistic goals as shown in his work and essay on theory, Plane and Space of 1913. In this sense the originally luminous and then expressive plane became geometric in his work until it was responsible for Cubist geometrical abstraction. Gutfreund's jump into the avant-garde can therefore be seen on one side as a development of a principle whose seeds were already contained in Art Nouveau and, on the other, it was indeed a brisk divorce from the naturalistic foundations of Czech Art Nouveau and a denial of its figurative psychologism. At this point the paths parted because Art Nouveau sculptors never ventured to dismantle the figure, to deconstruct and see it as an object. When they valiantly tried to deal with the avant-garde, as in Stursa's exceptional case, it was obvious that this approach did not suit their overall nature. On the contrary, they remained with the figurative standard even more so in their later development. Their objectification of style progressed further within Ruskin's theory, only gaining a will for a stronger system of form and content. In 1909, the Manes Association organized an exhibition for the sculptor Bourdelle in Prague, which would have great developmental importance for Czech

sculpture as a departure point from the previous worship of Rodin to a new synthesis of form and content.69 Bourdelle accompanied his exhibition with explanations in studios and also a lecture in which he tactfully distanced himself from Rodin's view and set out a new ideal:" ... primarily I am looking if sculptural work has originated in a managed and skilled spirit or in an adventurous soul. Am I standing in front of work by a knowing person or before the vision of a purely emotional person? All the interest, the entire question is here." 70 Bourdelle required that sculptors focus on the questions of form, that they deal with the beauty of planes, profiles and proportions. This formalization was supposed to reach a clearly formulated, constructively utilizable style. It was generally agreed that that was not available yet because: "Even from a decorative standpoint Rodin is alone, he has no system here. He does not use any tradition, he conceived one of the sculptures of his Gate in flat relief or even hollowed, another in high relief and another completely plastically: these three rules chase each other in turn, some figures even suit all three principles. 71 Due to Bourdelle's requirements, a new formalistic rationalism entered Czech sculpture which obviously dictated a need to objectify the style of the previous Rodinian concept for sculptural material as the Protean pulsing and metamorphosing of primitive matter controlled by purely emotional virtue. In opposition to the tragic view oflife contained in Rodin's work, where the beginning and end of all affairs coalesced in depressing reflection, a new demiurgic enthusiasm and optimism appeared, its persuasive apostle being Bourdelle. Soon it found a lively response in the Czech milieu which was longing to overcome the worldweary insipidity of the fin-de-siecle period and desired a new upsurge where expressive forces would demand their status. Under the influence of Bourdelle and partially also Maillol, Czech Art Nouveau sculpture entered its late developmental phase with its main feature being a will and endeavour for an artistic style. Bourdelle found examples in archaic Greek art for his new working focus and he utilized them freely according to his principles, mainly emphasizing sharply cut planes folding the statue into profiles like a relief His style was a decorative system of planes and volumes analogous to similar planes in Fauvist work in terms of their evocativeness. 72 Nevertheless, the system did not depart from nor deform the figure but only stylized it. Therefore Bourdelle's sculpture did not lead to avant-garde even though it had grown in a similar fashion out of the overall developmental impulse around 1910 which summoned abstraction. These were the circumstances that probably established the overall position of not only Bourdelle's sculpture but also the entire late Art Nouveau movement in global art development. Bourdelle's formalization of statue could seem to be very advantageous as seen from the needs of decorative sculpture. It brought a certain formula for style that proposed to overcome its interior tension between strong sculptural expression and the quiet symmetry of decoration which could frequently break the necessary unity in expression in previous Art Nouveau work. However, it must be noted that ideological dramatizing factors did not vanish even in late Art Nouveau sculpture which had accepted the stylization offered by Bourdelle. In reality, even before Bourdelle's exhibition, sculptural work had appeared in Prague indicating the coming change in style. These were the sculptures of Franz Metzner on the

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Viennese Banking Union Building constructed by architect Josef Zasche in Na Prikope Street in 1906-1908. Even though this building was positively accepted by Kotera on the Czech side, it would not be far from the truth to say that the trio of guardians designed by Sucharda, crowning the facing Koruna Palace built in 1912-14 by architect Antonin Pfeiffer, was supposed to ideologically compete with Metzner's Atlants, recalled by the archaic images of the Old German Nibelungs. Possibly· Bourdelle's negative remark during his Prague visit about the "Assyrian" character of visible efforts in style in Prague related to them. Later, Czech decorative sculpture inspired by Bourdelle was really very distinct for its lyrically softer, more "Grecian'' style (Jan Stursa or Antonin Waigant, cooperating with the architects Bohumil Waigant and Emil Kralicek). Nevertheless, expressiveness again emerged in the important decorative assemblage for the so-called Ice Palace (reg. no. 795 New Town) built by Matej Blecha in 1913-15. The late work of Stanislav Sucharda also demonstrated, especially in plaques, an interesting effort to individually manage this change in style on an expressive basis. Its authenticity in the field of decorative sculpture, however, was reached only by his student, Jaroslav Horejc, who understood that a prerequisite for good results was comprehension of the world of old Mediterranean myths. His refined stylization and remarkable ability of expression (House Sign At the Stone Table, reg. no. 550 New Town, 1911-12) led these results in the direction of Art Deco. Of the Czech sculptors, Jan Stursa was the closest to Bourdelle. Even before the French sculptor's visit, Stursa had taken the direction of a new plastic synthesis (Eva, 1908). His later development, especially his groups for Hlavka Bridge (1912-13), intensified the decorative vitality right to a monumental expression. In content it truly represented a counter-point to Rodin's tragic concept of the relationship of man and the world. Bourdelle's signal affected the majority of the leading personalities in Czech Art Nouveau sculpture. Mafatka conceived his statues for the New Town Hall, recently erected in the Old Town (1911), in the spirit of the new humanism, Spaniel almost abruptly turned from an Impressionistic relief to an entirely monumentalizing form (Portrait ofJan Evangelista Purkyne, 1910). Kafka followed this direction with his reliefs Flora and Fauna (1910) for the Municipal House and Gutfreund too, just entering the creative field of Czech sculpture, spent a short period under Bourdelle's influence when he became his first Czech student in Paris (Portrait ofAntonin Matijcek, 1910). But this sudden turn in development in Czech sculpture was not only caused by authority from abroad. It had been theoretically prepared for several years. Since 1906, Salda had been asserting post-Impressionism in the Free Trends, for example, reproducing pictures by Gauguin and Cezanne and publishing a supportive essay "Impressionism, its development, results and heirs" (1907) in which he definitively judged Impressionism as a closed historical chapter and proclaimed a will for stylistic and artistic rules. 73 Indeed, in the 10th volume of the Free Trends (1906), Jiranek enthusiastically wrote about Braun's Garin. But there was also Denis's text about Maillol as the representative of Neo-Classicism to assume reign after Impressionism. In distinction to the "ingenious violator" Rodin, Maillol had a feeling for the geometrical perfection of the body, created an ideal type similar to an

architecture of the senses and modelled following Ingres's precepts that a rounded plane was a beautiful form. 74 Classicism, whose revival we have mentioned, soon blossomed into a principle for Salda in opposition to the previous Romantic revolutionary spirit.7s In the end it seems that one of the ideological reasons for the subsequent parting of Salda from the Free Trends were his opinions which were turning the helm of public opinion on art too abruptly. However, several years later, the mainstream had completely shifted into the channel dug by Salda with his information, polemics and views. This convergence towards tradition was a necessary consequence of exclusive emotional empiricism, now exhausted. The original naturalism of the Art Nouveau generation was overturned into its opposite, in a controversy with consequences that could have led and mostly did lead, back to academism. In essence, Bourdelle's reform was only a formalization of the figure in Art Nouveau statue. Its ancient mythologizing apparatus did not create a new unity of content and form, on the contrary, it definitively isolated these two areas, only designating a sort of modus vivendi for them. The desired harmony between life and art became an empire of utopian illusions and its influence was terminated by World War I. It definitely closed the period in which Czech Art Nouveau sculpture arose, developed, stagnated and disappeared.

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New Style Ladislav Saloun: Allegorical figure from the decorations of the Main Train Station, 1906-10, Prague

Stanislav Sucharda: Decorations of the building reg. no. 95 "U Bezdeku ", 1906, stucco, Plzeii

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Ladislav Saloun: Rabbi Low, decorations of the New Town Hall, 1910-14, stone, Prague

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Ladislav Saloun: Head of an Egyptian Woman, 1912 , patinated plaster, 35 cm, private col lection

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Stanislav Sucharda: Decorations of the main entrance of the New Town Hall, 1911, stone, Prague

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Josef Mafatka : Strength and Stam ina, decorations of the New Town Ha ll facade, 19 11, artificia l stone, Prague

Bohumil Kafka: Plaque for the Commercial and Trade Chamber, 1908, bronze , 27x35 cm , National Gallery in Prague

Bohumi l Kafka : Milena Jesenska , 1909, bronze, 25 .5x23 cm , National Gallery in Prague

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Bohumil Kafka: Fauna , 1910, plaster, 87x200 cm , National Gallery in Prague

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Stanislav Sucharda: Lessons I, II , 1908, medals, silver-plated copper, 6.5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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Stanislav Sucharda: Sketch for a plaque, 1910, ink drawing, 20.8x25. 7 cm, National Gallery in Prague Stanislav Sucharda : Sketch for a sculpture, around 1910, ink drawing, 21.1x13.2 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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Jan Stursa: Maquette for decorations on the Business and Ind ustry Pavilion , 1908, plaster, 61.5 cm, Nationa l Gallery in Prague

Josef Maratka: Study for the Portrait of Antonfn Dvorak, 1905, bronze, 27 cm, National Gallery in Prague

The Symbolics of Form

One of the striking themes of the Czech Art Nouveau sculpture is sleep. We meet it in its various forms: Kafka's statue of 1905 is titled Somnambulist. In the same year, Mafatka modelled Portrait of Antonin Dvofdk, listening with his eyes closed to a melody being created in his inner mind. Sucharda's triptych Prayer far My Native Land is a symmetric nude composition of two men, young and old, kneeling next to a masked woman lost in a deep and, at the same time, even meditative sleep (1903). Bilek created Blind Men (1902) and a whole series of his statues have mystically closed eyes. The same is repeated in some heads by Saloun. In Kocian's Abel (1901), sleep is death. Examples can be easily found because Art Nouveau sculpture abounds in sensibilities falling into the sphere of daydreaming. The concept of portrait, especially female, was almost bewitched by them, both in the bust and even more so in the "impressionistic" plaque. It was symptomatic of the entire era. However, the first expression of these trends was Rodin's Bronze Age (1876) and many disputes arose around its interpretation within its period. The critics, used to the moralizing allegorism of the 19th century, asked in vain whether it was a somnambulist, a reaction to the Prussian-French War or "Awakening Humanity". Rodin answered that it was only a statue.7 6 Today, the connection of Bronze Age with Michelangelo's Dying Slave in the Louvre is obvious. It is also possible to interpret this statue according to ancient Gnostic and Platonic traditions which understood awakening from sleep as the symbolic return of a soul from its captivity by darkness, matter and death, to its original goal designated by God.7 7 In this sense Rodin's statue stands at the beginning of the history of modern sculpture if we consider the parallel with its process of denaturalization. However, the theme of sleep is not explicitly connected with death in Czech sculpture nor with Rodin either, even though there seems to be a close relationship, especially at the beginning of its development. We would have the chronological order by reversing the dates previously mentioned. In terms of importance the phenomenon has a much larger breadth primarily being connected with anamnesis and memory. They were not comprehended rationally but empathetically following the sparks and paths of the emotions emerging in the field of the artist's sensibility liberated from previous ideological and formal norms. In this direction in Art Nouveau the theme of sleep moves from mortal lethargy and somnambulism to unconscious inspiration and reflection. The Art Nouveau belief in intuition was completely grounded in this broadened meaning of sleep understood as diving below the surface of consciousness. In the previous explanation we noticed how the Naturalism of the 1890's gradually went through a metamorphosis. It lost its sense of description of objects and acquired a sense of a relationship to them. This relationship was very quickly designated as psychic and emotionally euphoric. Basically, art work stopped being an imitation of the exterior world and became an imitation of the interior one. Not a world of fantasy themes for dreamy pictures or ghostly stories with their literary romantism, to which the new art declared its distance (but never absolute) by its "Impressionism'', but in the sense of the emotional unrest of the human interior. The psychic zone into which art thus descended imprinted a specific feature onto Art Nouveau pieces. No longer were its contents abstractly general and

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conventional but, on the contrary, they became personally subjective and individualistic. This change meant the fall of allegory. Understandable themes, educational and honourable, did not exist any longer as they had safely been used by the 19th century art.7 8 Artistic thinking was wrenched from their systems. Naturalistic empiricism, which became acute with its decadent tendency towards exclusivity and preciousness, redirected artists to other paths. In contact with the raw reality of life of both things and emotions, after the old Art of abstraction and certainty, a void appeared. Only in this situation did Art Nouveau find its authentic concept for artistic work in terms of symbol. . Allegory is static, whereas symbol is dynamic. This is what handicaps its emotionality. In his notes on theory Saloun wrote about art as a personification of emotion. Symbol grows from the depths of the unconsciousness and this genesis is the cause of its multiple meanings. Symbol confuses spectators with its ambiguity, repelling and attracting them at the same time, because they feel a message within. They understand that there is a concealed knowledge which is important not only for initiating direct contact with its producer, but even for exceeding its originator and presenting a secret of the world. In this sense Salda demonstrated his understanding of Rodin by following the advice from the brightest mind of the 1890's, Oscar Wilde, who had recommended that art critics should not explain a piece of art but strive to deepen its secret. 79 This sense of Art Nouveau for the mystery of artistic creation opened wide the gates to all modern art in its desire for a new incorporation of art into the reality of the world. The sculptors who had embarked on an untrodden path at the turn of the century, however, could not have known the tenets of archetypes which now explain how it is possible to find a grain of truth in this obvious subjectivism.so On their journey into the unknown they were supported by several tools. Observations of the nude and such themes with their humanitarianism, understood as a set of close relationships to woman, child and death, outlasted the crisis of allegorism. All these tools, regardless of the routes through which they came to the sculptors, had some importance only if they corresponded to the urges of the emotional and psychic potential pressing to intervene into the world and its figuration. This principle of intuitive resonance has to be considered typical of the Art Nouveau artistic method. It is reflected in all the relationships of Art Nouveau not only to life but also literature, music, philosophy etc. Even such efforts for ideation in art, such as Bilek's relationship to religion, can only be understood based on this principle. Conscious content was therefore not primary in the creative process of an Art Nouveau sculptor. Neither did a fixed iconographic system exist. Bilek's themes, which definitely are the most defined, also wandered from the sphere of Christian and biblical topics to very freely drawn oriental or historical themes. As personifications of spiritual states, in the end they formed a completely personal group. Between the resulting thematic figuration and statues as artistic artifacts on one side, and the primal magma of emotions and instincts on the other side, existed a mediating link which allowed a mutual relationship between them, colouring it in a specific manner. This link was concept - idea. The Art Nouveau sculptor did not aim for an immediate imprint of his emotions into the sculpted material as his

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Stanisla v Sucharda: Prayer for My Nati ve Land, 1903, tin, 11.5x13; 11.5x7; 11.5x13.2 cm, National Galle ry in Prague

dam and Eve , detail , 1921 , oak, 95 cm , Prague City Gal lery, Bilek Vil la

singular goal, as it happened later in abstract Expressionist sculpture. This approach might have already appeared in Art Nouveau sculpture but only in sketches, in preparations for the statue itself. It seems that only these two exceptions afflicted the specific character of Art Nouveau symbolism which was neither conscious nor completely unconscious. An Art Nouveau statue projected an uninterchangeable impression where emotion and intellect, content and form, naturalism and stylization existed simultaneously and side by side in some kind of unity. Subsequently it is difficult to describe what Art Nouveau sculptors themselves called concept. The idea was not rational or only sensual. "Impressionism" was perceived as the mysticism of reality. 81 Bilek talked about an interior vision. Saloun wrote that concept is more than mere emotion because it lends the emotion a certain positive quality, meaning a certain place in the world of shapes. These statements reflected the multifacetedness of the Art Nouveau symbol. They indicate that concept was not something fixed, some kind of formal formula or a rule in a program. It contained a psychic relationship endowed with imaginative powers and therefore also picturality, and its sensual side could be grasped both in terms of form and notion (thematically). Given that this relationship was projected from uroboric emotional unconsciousness into the more conscious layers of the psyche of the period and secured by art. The imagination of the Art Nouveau sculptor relied on the human figure. This traditional component of sculptural work allowed a mutual linkage between both the content (theme) and formal elements. Regarding the overall orientation of the Art Nouveau sculptor's psyche, if thematic figuration meant only a more conscious factor in the entire duration of the creative process (cases when the theme was prescribed, as in monuments, in principle did not exclude this direction in the creative procedure as reality proved), it means that in concept and especially in its shift to figuration, a special influence was gained by those components which formed it and resulted from the sensual relationship inherent in the concept itself. So sculptural equivalents for concept were created which supported the art work not only in the formal sense of style but also in the sense of meaning. In Art Nouveau sculpture we can find several of these components. Light was the most summarizing one. Taken from a historical viewpoint, the interest in light was situated at the centre of the overall development of the Czech Art Nouveau movement, between the period of linear Art Nouveau and the period when plane stood out as the main artistic agent and was understood as an expression of the return to a decorative mission for art 82 and the means of its symbolic synthesis. Impressionism, proclaimed mainly by Salda in 1902-1907, however, by far did not exhaust the relationship which felt light to be an artistic element. Salda was also aware of it, having written about the cosmic lyrics of light83 and light giving voice to the essence oflife and movement in Rodin's work.8 4 While the visual impression was the final aim in Impressionism, Art Nouveau artists and theoreticians understood light in its semantics. In one of the essays by Otokar Brezina, which were published in the Free Trends and in fact had the most original theoretical value in the Czech movement, two kinds of light were discussed in connection with the theme of sleep mentioned at the beginning of the chapter:

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''An invisible world permeates the visible world. Through the freedom of dream, art intervenes into the explanation of things ... The light it casts over things is purer and more mysterious than the light of our sun; it is the second, spiritual side of this light."85 The concept of light in Frantisek Bilek's work was the artistic fulfilment of Brezina's sentences and began with his work on the Crucified. In the first decade of our era it developed into a complete mythology of light. But also where artistic interest followed a purely "impressionistic" path, and according to Mauclair's program, art was understood as a beautiful life of senses, a feeling for the symbolic value of light asserted itself In a highly esteemed article on Turner, called Flight into the Sun, Muther wrote that the last goal of the English painter was not truth in presenting natural impressions at all, but a special fantastic world by which Turner, similar to a natural force, made light a mediator of metaphysical moods like those created by Bocklin and Klinger through line. 86 Therefore light was expressly understood as an artistic symbol, a sensual relationship of a universal importance. On one side, it influenced the linear components in the outlook of the period by softening and enriching their ornamental qualities and, on the other side, however, it was being moulded by this contact. The situation was best described by Mauclair when he explained Rodin: "Sculpture destroys the false idea of a linear drawing (for Mauclair it was identified with an undesired factor of morality) in order to replace it with a drawing of planes and volumes, and Rodin, being a pure and true classic, agrees with the Egyptians, Greeks and Assyrians, repeating to us that limiting a surface in the air is an illusion, and he systematically multiplies the planes that outline his statues in such a manner that they create the broadest contact between them and the shining atmosphere which elongates them."87 In its consequences, later re-evaluated by avant-garde sculpture, this approach led to creating a concept of plane. That means that it had its origins in light, which was also influential on the conception of the later Cubist transparency of planes. It is important that in this respect the question of space and its concept stepped into the foreground, which was especially very pressing for sculptors. Indeed, Mauclair, possibly due to his aversion to line, only grasped one side of the increased spatial activity of Art Nouveau statue, integrating it into his symbolism of the "shining state". 88 There was a trend to merge with surrounding space, most notable in Czech sculpture practice in Kafka's Parisian statues created after all at the time of the sculptor's personal contact with Mauclair. They continued in accordance with the theory of empathy and with Salda's concept of Impressionism as a monistic mysticism of reality, declared in his lecture New beauty, its genesis and character. Besides this expansion, however, the spatial character of the Art Nouveau statue conveyed another trend that opened matter to space and subsequently to light as well, inwards rather than outwards . Where the statue contour had remained continuously closed, the sense for space in Art Nouveau sculpture turned to removing and hollowing out matter. As a result a greatly emphasized concave volume arose in the statue, drawing space into the statue interior. Bilek's St. Ann Sacrifices the Virgin to God (1899), Maratka's Abandoned Ariadna (1903) with its hollow centre, or Kafka's Woman after Bath Arranging her Hair (1905) are examples,

the last demonstrating how personal creative work exceeded the theoretical schemata of the period. This concave volume in Art Nouveau sculpture also had its developmental consequences in modern sculpture. It led to the concept of positive and negative volumes, significantly applied in Cubism. However, mainly it led to the idea of socalled interior space which forms the very foundation of the modern sculptural spatial continuum. 89 From this historical perspective it is also possible to explain its beginnings in Art Nouveau. It is a matter of contrasts. Light does not disintegrate a shape only on the surface but falls deep into open material, creating a dark cavity. Impressionists excluded shades and black from art. On the contrary in Art Nouveau, shadow and light are in a mutual semantic relationship which can be interpreted in the neoPlatonic sense as the fight between good and evil, an emanation of godly principles into the darkness of matter. Nevertheless, if we fully accepted this strict explanation which is reasonably valid here, as Gnostics we would agree that Art Nouveau sculptors were people who loved darkness. But such a morality would not cover the range of the developing Art Nouveau symbol. In the above mentioned statues the mutual relationship between light and darkness does not have the character of a clash or fight but more likely of balance or submersion. With Bilek, a statue accepts the light-space with all its bowed shape. The modelled material was not dead but Bilek's "soul of the wood" was awakening in it. This Christian concept was secularized by Kafka and for him too, light was not only a supra-personal natural phenomenon but mainly an emotional relationship for the spectator, one's vision. Perception is focused into the material, in its darkness it searches for an explanation, a comprehensible shape. In this manner two activities meet in the secret of the material: the natural "upper" light of the sun, moon, and stars, and the light of human sight, one's emotional desire. If this interpretation of concave volume in Art Nouveau is correct, further connections arise and clarify both the theme of dreams and also the nature of the Art Nouveau symbol. In agreement with the simultaneously developing psychoanalysis, interest had turned to the dark side of emotional life, to the subconscious. This obsession of the period could recall some of the practices of primitive and archaic communities. To renew their vital forces or achieve maturity by spiritual rebirth and initiation, they recommended and mediated for humans a return to the god's or mother's womb in various ways. In an enclosed and dark interior the adept was supposed to re-enter a prenatal state and initiate an identifying intercourse with the very source and foundation of all life. Tendencies to the primitive and original, clearly discernible in many symptoms of the Art Nouveau movement, therefore descended from the ladder of civilization into the depths, to the very Mothers of artistic intuition.90 Opening sculptural material with a concave volume recalls the old idea of the "womb of the Earth" which not only swallows but also gives birth. Here Art Nouveau clearly followed the main ideas of Romanticism, making a return to the beginnings. The Art Nouveau regressus ad uterum, however, went further beyond the beginnings of the world. Sometimes it descended right to primal chaos, to states where shapes and principles were not yet differentiated,

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when everything was still merged into one. Rodin's Gates of Hell, which symptomatically remained unfinished, was a monument to this Art Nouveau tendency. In that turmoil of hundreds of aimlessly flowing and expressively springing bodies we can find a complete pictorial parallel to Freud's model of the subconscious. This informal factor was marked in Czech sculpture by such works as Stursa's Drowned Cat (1904) . However, in its true essence it asserts itself everywhere where shape and word are set in motion. The psychic continuum, which was the source of Art Nouveau sculpture, is bound to exclude classic calmness and a static character. Salda saw the essence of a new beauty in the rhythm and its basis, the heart beat. 91 Emotions are states in continuous motion and change, and their dictate demands a dynamic and expressive form. Nevertheless, Art Nouveau expression did not usually vent its passions externally but turned them inwards. On the Gates of Hell the Thinker sits contemplating, remembering, and turning his mental activity inwards. This submersion of psychic relationships probably had a specific importance for the Art Nouveau style. Van de Velde said that line is a force taking energy from the person who draws it. Rodin was highly appreciated because he "loosened the stiffened flow of lines".92 The entire theory and practice of the Art Nouveau line was based on identifying these formal means with the idea of psychic flux, permeating things and people, seizing and changing them by its influence. It purified and brought them closer to their beginnings understood to be truthful. The influence of this Art Nouveau idea was so great and attractive that it outlived Art Nouveau itself When Otto Gutfreund wrote about Cubism and rejected Art Nouveau for its naturalism in 1913, he nevertheless retained its idea of a psychic flux which was the foundation for his definition of a statue that is: "... continuous waving planes, an illusion of volumes, vibrations whose power breaks the banks of the limiting space and takes them away with the waves and whirls, indicating the depth through the surface, waves whose streams, without stopping, mirror the fragments of reality."93 Later, Surrealists would also follow the central idea of Art Nouveau with their psychic automatism, thus distinguishing its influence as one of the main factors for future modern art development. The Art Nouveau lines of the 1890's are long, recalling waves, and often linked to the natural themes of the water world. 94 With Bilek, they were the "depressed lines" of Golgotha. In them the gloomy period of fin-de-siecle found its expression. The prevailing tragic nature of art, the returning theme of death (Kocian, Saloun, Sucharda and Kafka) demonstrated that the descent of the Art Nouveau artist into the depths had started during the most radical departures from convention. But soon they began their ascent. With Bilek and other sculptors, line began to imitate flame and a new spiritual optimism began to spread through art, blazing up to the ecstasy of expression in Rodinian sculpture. Light appeared as an artistic factor and the Czech moderna quoted the passage from Balzac's Unknown Masterpiece: "Line is the means by which man realizes the influence of light on objects but in nature there are no lines ..."95 Light consumed both exterior and interior naturalism and as a transparent plane it led further on ... The development of artistic imagination in the Art Nouveau movement and its evolution occurred

over time. But it was not a historical time. It was the time of sleep, meaning a mythical time. Art Nouveau's return to the origins of artistic work brought about strong myth-creating tendencies. If we agree that the subconscious is in its way "mythological" and that "some of its contents are loaded with cosmic values, in other words, that they reflect modalities, processes, and destinations of life and live matter"96, then we can see the entire Art Nouveau movement as a myth or an attempt to create a myth. The inconsistent relationships of Art Nouveau to social reality, individuality, and also religion, can be explained only from this viewpoint and from a contextual analysis of the position of the art intelligentsia in society at the turn of the century. Art Nouveau had the structure of a myth: it declared a renewal of the world through a return to its beginnings and its origin. It refused the relics of the old world, including its historicism, and wanted to create a new world. In this sense its representatives talked about the unity of art and life. Therefore the core of Art Nouveau was not pessimistic as in the 1890's, marking its beginnings with a refusal and negation of the old world, instead it aimed at creating new values supported by deep fundamentals. Art Nouveau experimentation for a style was an attempt to recreate an artistic world from the primal chaos. This cosmogenic ethos was often expressed theoretically, when, for example, Rodin was declared to be a cosmic force. 97 The exclusive position of Rodin, his near deification by the Czech moderna, originated in his recognized role of a kind of cosmo-creator whose model of the world was an ideal archetype for the creative process and therefore every piece of art. This concept meant a basic unity of biological, psychological, and historical components, embodied in the view of basic artistic components, that is, matter, line, light, and space. It is therefore also understandable that the Czech Art Nouveau movement kept referring to Rodin in a way that gradually found newer and newer features in him by which it adapted its ideal to the developmental changes. Bourdelle's Prague lecture was a classic example of that, negating Rodin but in such a manner that within all of his work, next to famous and exemplary pieces, one further position, up to that point concealed, would be discovered and emphasized to suit the demands of a new synthesis. 98 Late Art Nouveau, with its objectification efforts, only confirmed the extr:aordinarily creative ambitions that were hidden in the initial descent into the psychic depths. From the viewpoint of this momentous Art Nouveau impulse, which bore importance on all later modern art, the course set by Czech sculpture after 1910 appears, however, as a formalization and an incomplete mythologic figuralization of the revealed universal prerequisites. Late Art Nouveau was too aware of its mythological component and also expressed it iconographically through its antiquation of themes and rehabilitation of Classicism. Thus a kind of archaizing historicism arose, whose objectifying value was, in comparison to the current interest of the avant-garde (younger in terms of generation), in the primitive art of aboriginal nations, about the same as the difference between written and live or oral mythology. The dispute over "modern mythology" originated here and during its subsequent resolution late Art Nouveau art gradually shifted to academism and no longer participated. The position of Art Nouveau at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries is undoubtedly a symbol of its fate. It was

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a transitional period in which many elements of its mentality were m1X1ng. However, given its intuition, Art Nouveau undoubtedly already belongs to modern art history. It established its basic sense for a deep renewal of the world. Later generations were often much more radical in this direction than Art Nouveau. But at the point where Art Nouveau is most authentic and original, an approach to this basic question, modern in its principle, seems to have been delineated. It consisted of som·e kind of wise divergence of emotion and intellect collectively directed towards a unity that was their goal and source, a unity that was not known but recalled and whose promise gave hope for an inexorable disillusion.

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Frantisek Bflek: So You May Sanctify Your Essence in Us, around 1900, charcoal drawing, 88.5x66.6 cm ,

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The Symbo li cs of Form

Prague City Gallery

Frantisek Bilek: Head of Christ Crucified, 1896, plaster, 30 cm, Prague City Gallery

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The Symbolics of Fo rm

Josef Maratka: Abandoned Ariadne , 1903, plaster, 29 cm, National Gal!ery in Prague

Bohumil Kafka: Somnambula, 1905, bronze, 81.5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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Jan Stursa: Drowned Cat, 1904, wax, 29 cm , Nationa l Gallery in Prague

Bohumil Kafka: Maquette for The Embrace of Love and Death, 1906, bronze , 32.5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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Stanislav Sucharda: Stud y fo r a tomb scu lpture, probably 1909 , bronze , 39 cm , Nationa l Ga llery in Prague

Ladislav Saloun: Sirene, around 1904, patinated plaster, 29.5 cm, private collection Ladisla v Saloun: Escape from Life - Last Tones of a Song, around 1905, bronze, 29.5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

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Bohumil Kafka : Woman after a Bath Arranging her Hair, 1905, bronze , 28 cm , National Gallery in Prague

Frantisek Bflek: Study for The Blind , 1901 , burnt clay, 56.5 cm , National Gal lery in Prague

Fr,1n11sel- OIL(K

, 187? 19-1 1

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Frantisek Bflek: St. Ann Sacrifices the Virgin Mary to God, 1899, patinated plaster, 94.5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

Moses, 1905, bronze , above-life size, Prague

Frantisek Bilek

Bilek is the leader of Symbolism in Czech sculpture at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Bilek always remained within his spiritual and artistic fundamentals from the 1890's onwards, and later, when he and the other sculptors who had chosen the problem of form as primary parted ways, it seemed that there was no agreement in the beginning either, that from the start Bilek had remained isolated on the sidelines as a completely exceptional case. In spite of that it is possible to show that in reality Bilek was an originator of the entire symbolistic trend in Czech sculpture. This was especially true at the end of the 1890's when his new works regularly appeared at the Manes Association exhibitions. But after Rodin's exhibition the influence of this French sculptor completely predominated - regardless if for the reason of his being an influential forei.g n authority or because his opinion was more accessible and on the whole more engaging for the predominating sensual faculty of Czech sculptors. In the 1890's, Bilek's form was unusual within the young sculpture. In Paris at Injalbert, wltere in 1891, after his attempt to become a painter failed due to physiological indisposition, he learnt sculpting. Allegedly, he was held as a good example 99 and his first independent works such as Golgotha or Ploughing excelled in their naturalism. However, there was an essential difference in content. Strong experiences were a decisive factor in the inception of these first sculptures. Unfortunately, Bilek mentioned it only briefly in his correspondence with Zeyer. 100 The core of this emotion was guilt. It was typical of Bilek to transfer his personal metaphysical feelings onto the humankind using parables. Bilek needed some kind of personification for his torturing feelings of guilt, sadness and isolation, and he found it in Christ. As soon as this connection between his instant and abysmal disgust with the existing world and Christian idea occurred, Bilek's thinking and his art adopted their program. Bilek went through the basic initiation which was common among all the authentic modern artists of the 1890's. But while Gauguin's existential, translucent vision connected with the idea of primitive paradise or Munch's with sexual problems, more suitable for the Central-European introversion of the 1890's, Bilek, obviously guided by his Messiah complex, held to a more literary but also deeply rooted and more communicative ideology. But his relationship to this ideology was, in distinction to some later converts, very unorthodox and therefore it is no wonder that Bilek's ideological religious expressions were finally judged by the Church to be deliriously heretical expressions of pride. 101 Bilek's religious confessions must therefore be seen separately from Catholic doctrine since in reality they only shared the same source, the Bible. On the other hand, this perspective cannot be completely divorced from Bilek's art work because it was definitely ideo-plastic and linked with his universe to such a degree that separating them would mean the complete devaluation of both mutually complementing components. Therefore Bilek's religious views can also be understood as rather an unusual art theory that strongly exceeded ·its usual framework. Bilek's intellectual centre was not art but his overall view of the world. After all, this universal feature was a specific expression of Bilek's modernity, albeit not easily recognized or acknowledged at first sight: it was veiled in old iconography. But the more we study Bilek, the more clearly we see his remarkable

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attempt to deepen the onthological foundations of the emotional human being using religious forms. Bilek's religion was not based on belief but on a mystical vision. "People did not teach me the shape and essence of God through belief. It cannot be even taught but only suffered. But with me, belief ceased when I started to see God. Therefore I do not believe in God because I see Him. Because I take all my work from th.ese images and I have to ... and because the world and my friends do not look at my pieces with the same eyes with which I made them, I started writing a "creed" (confiteor) and "satisfaction" for our art with language and letters accessible to them ... "102 All of Bilek's writings and his allegories are a reflection of an occasionally perceived powerful spiritual affect which, because of its indescribability, even incommunicability, has all the features of a typical mystic experience. 103 These feelings varied in intensity. At their strongest, a diffuse feeling of happiness pervaded, so intense that it did not even bear a pictorial image. But evidently such eruptions of desire into the conscious state were relatively rare, nevertheless, when Bilek did not feel it in the offing, he would fall into states of deep depression and anxiety. If we judge Bilek's determinative emotional foundations from the viewpoint of a theory of artistic imagination, we see that the most favourable state for creating pictorial images was one of tension between these two poles. Bilek devoted a great amount of attention to his dream images which, after all, usually had the character of a vision. 104 But conscious life and also the concrete works of art themselves were dreams to him. 105 Bilek's drawings have a definitely enigmatic character. But with his creative work so clearly defined by an interior emotional base, the question arose about the objectification of all his inward agitation. Bilek's neurotic disposition hampered his yearnings for happiness, a quiet balance between the personality and the world. Only with excessive pressure, by overcoming this disposition, did he reach the desired state of balance for a while. So redeemed by suffering, "self-suffering and beating", there is no wonder that when this rupture within had been bridged for a while, it seemed absolute and eternal. In his correspondence from the 1890's, Bilek often resembled van Gogh but he did not have his barbarous nature nor his colour sense. On the contrary, he saw in terms of black-and-white, thus also displaying his need for an ideology. But similar to the Dutchman he sought support and examples and found them in Christ. Christ was the central figure of Bilek's iconography in the 1890's. This choice t completely suited Bilek. However, it was a different Christ than that depicted in the sacred art of the 19th century. It is not a beautiful young man in a flowing robe, blessing the multitude, full of reverence and innocent perfection, as created by romanticizing Classicism. On the contrary, Bilek's Christ was from the romantic, tragic family of heroes who are not representatives but subjective seekers and therefore martyrs and sufferers. After all, it was a typical conception of the modern 1890's, very clearly expressed for instance by Oscar Wilde, a hedonist, who had hardly anything in common with Bilek at first sight: "If I ever write again, I mean in the sense to create a piece of art, I want to express myself on two themes, one is 'Christ as a predecessor of Romantism in life', and the other is 'Artistic life and its relationship to behaviour'. The first one is certainly magically attractive because

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Frantisek Bflek

Christ is Dead ... , before 1900, ink and chalk drawing, 51.9x70.5 cm, National Gallery in Prague

in Christ I see not only essential features of the most perfect romantic type, but also all the secondary signs of a romantic temperament, even stubbornness. He was the first man who ever told people that they should live 'the life of flowers' ... Being a man of such artistic nature, for whom suffering and sorrow are forms by which he could realize his concept of beauty, he felt that a thought only has value if it is personified, becoming a statue and that is why he made a statue of himself, called a Man of Many Pains, and as such he enchanted art, ruling it in a manner in which not even one Greek God succeeded."106 Bilek mainly understood Christ within this romantic tradition, also seeing him as the "Son of Man", not as God, but as a symbol of the human moral problem. "... it has been six years that I have been feeling pain, thrust upon Christ and God by us, people. To prevent it, believing in Christ, we should have Him in everything of ours, this 'path of the correct life', the path, the truth and life, in brief: to imitate Christ as a saviour within ourselves, right to the wood of the cross."107 This specifically expressed the artistic themes of Bilek's program during the 1890's, moving from Ploughing (1892) to Crucified (1896-99). Ploughing, which is "punishment for our guilt", was characteristic with its expressive naturalism. The nude of Christ, the plougher, falling to the ground in exhaustion, is a ruthlessly depicted skinny skeleton that must have certainly angered the Prague granting committee. In 1892, Bilek was actually the most modern sculptor here, providing a real stylish initiative to the other young producers who were only hesitatingly disengaging from Myslbek's classical concepts. However, Bilek's naturalism was neither of Impressionistic origins nor did it arise from a literary model. In Paris Bilek studied particularly the casts of French Gothic sculpture in the Trocadero ios and it seems most probable that the stimulae for his work originated here. This idea is also supported by the fact that naturalism for Bilek was not a mere reflection of the then French moderna because he had his own justification for his opinion which went beyond French themes of common life. Bilek wrote later: "They are still very much in chaos, those who think that Christ and the Virgin Mary must have been the most beautiful in the world of people and that a hag is as ugly as a devil! I cannot stand such wickedness! A real human being in God's Christ like Jesus, who was a carpenter with worn out and strained muscles, thin and wrinkled cheeks after fasts and bad weather, and through the sweat (and also maltreatment), is never that what the world would call pretty, but in spite of that, God can still peer out from him. Then all of us with our ugly cheeks, would have to be devils and the Parisians and all those pretty, attractive, nice women would be saint and angels. What is beautiful, attractive - is never good for the common person! Christ's face had as little attraction as his statement: go, give everything away, take the cross and follow me." 109 From Bilek's concept of Naturalism it is possible to i:ecognize some kind of plebeian, moralistic tone which sounds almost Hussite. Here Naturalism was only the means of expression for a universal idea of a systematic character, not analytical as in the case of the French. In Bilek's work this destination for Naturalism was also illustrated in Ploughing by the tiny figures in front of the main figure, undoubtedly supposed to symbolize the futility and narrow-mindedness of human beings concerned with material

things, hostile, dead, and imprisoning people. Therefore Ploughing is firstly a symbolic sculpture, naturalism only sharpens these meanings. But that was also a correct concept for Naturalism from the viewpoint of its further development and had an impact not only as a whole but also in the concrete motif. Sucharda's and Saloun's later proposals for the Hus Monument were built exactly according to Bilek's original idea of the confrontation between an individualistic and ethical person of stature and the petty multitude. Nevertheless, the general sense of contradiction was lost and the overall idea was used in a more narrative manner Hus accompanied by Czech history or being a personification of the times. With its Naturalism and Symbolism, Ploughing is effective as a statue. Even though Bilek did not care very much for the classical principles of verticality in statues, nor consider the question of equilibrium, orienting the figure in a very unstable position, his sculpture has formal qualities which separate it both from an imitation of reality provided by the orthodoxy of the superficial Realism of the period and the Myslbekian monumental Realism. Thus Ploughing is not a mere illustration of an allegorical idea. The main figure of Ploughing is deliberately composed in its overall enclosing contour by which it also differs from the Baroque concept of form even though at first sight it has many signs characteristic of the Baroque naturalistic spiritualism. Therefore Ploughing cannot be connected with Neo-Baroque tendencies which were otherwise very strongly displayed in both Czech architecture and sculpture in the 1890's, influencing the artistic feeling in Czech Art Nouveau to such a degree that often they are considered its direct precursors. With its emphasis on sculptural dynamism and supported by the vast number of monuments which once formed such a significant and important chapter in Czech art history, N eo-Baroque was a powerful agent in the overall focus of Czech sculpture at the beginning of the century, particularly in the section following sensuality. Nevertheless, it is important to clarify that Bilek did not belong to this circle. The enveloping contour of his figure opposes the Baroque concept of a statue opened to the air with its "in aria" gesture. Bilek remained true to type in that his figures and also group statues are enclosed entities within their outlines. At the most, one arm may stretch out, connected to its surroundings by a gesture that does not aggressively shoot out as in Baroque, but rather flows out of the statue in a soft and often passive manner. The drapery, as used by Bilek mainly in his later statues, had a completely clear mission, to precisely consolidate the overall statue contour. The folds are rarely sculpturally overly accented but are held in planes, low relief and minor but long pleats. The contour of Bilek's figures stops being a bodily silhouette, becoming more like an outline. The canon of the body in these figures, in their thinness and length of the extremities, becomes a strong silhouette due to its linearity. The nude depicted in Ploughing is formed and rotated with an almost mannerist in.t ention to utilize this linearity of its extremities and create sharp and effective outlines (Kovarna). Therefore Bilek's artistic foundations are not established on sculptural volume as the fundamental constituent and unit but mainly rely on line. After all, Bilek expressly wrote about this in his notes, published as a commentary on a picture of

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Franti sek Bflek

Flood (from the cycle The Path) , 1902-1903, burnt clay , 34 cm , Prague City Gallery

his Golgotha (also of 1892) in the Free Trends: "My effort was to express the thing, the idea, already in the lines." 11 0 We recognize this basic tendency of seeing form in expressive lines everywhere in Bilek's work of the 1890's. Initially, it showed a considerably Naturalistic tenor. In Golgotha they are freely hanging ropes which lowered the transverse beam of the cross and the outstretched thorn crown. Besides their linear sense in the composition, they additionally contribute the strangely modern sharpness of a real thing to the statue. All these "depressing lines", which are also repeated in the figure of John, where "his leg protruding from the story is justified", 111 still do not have a purely formal sense as we would expect in the inverted perspective of the later "pure" modern art. On the contrary, they are of symbolic significance, effectively expressing an idea. Calvary "recalls a cross with a beam raised up, towering overhead, and with the spread-out story below, it recalls arms that mean embrace: this embrace descends down to the ground under the weight of sorrow. Only the Virgin Mary, for whom only Christ used the word "woman", creates an unmelancholic line. 11 2 Also in Bilek's further work, lines display an ideo-plastic meaning. The lines in Parable of the Grand Dusk of Bohemia (1898) are similarly "depressing". The work is important in that it began a thematic series dealing with the national problem from Bilek's point of view and because his woodcarving was exercised to the loss of Naturalism. Already the path which the chisel follows, with no retouching of the wood, is physically linear, often gouging the material in long veins. The free hair and outstretched hand of a lying female figure are typical Art Nouveau motifs which enable the continuous flow of organically conceived forms. Also the diagonal of the figure is typical in terms of composition. Bilek often built other statues with this asymmetrical axis, which itself incites a feeling of deviation from balance and a spiritual trauma. In this sense, however, it can be used for various intentions. Diagonals appear in both Parable of Our Times (1895) and Portrait of Mrs. Bilek (1902, 1910). In the former, the bending diagonal disposition of the figure, together with its other features, should express cunning, and in the latter, there is again the typical motif of waving hair but with a completely different content. In this case it is more likely a vague but strong metaphysical desire. After all, the difference does have something of a connection, but it is a connection of a contradiction. Therefore such basic formal motifs were ambiguous in Bilek's work but they still had a certain more complicated common foundation. Staying with the motif of diagonals, we see that Moses (1905) in his basic movement is only a rotated variation of Parable. But here too there are important details in the action of the hands and the head. They significantly differ between the forefather of wisdom and the disgusting fanatic, between the noble external passivity concealing an internal fire, and the external activity covering a dead void. (It is interesting that Parable of Our Times deviates from Bilek's compact concept of a statue. In its overall contour, the "hole" between the arm and the body provides an aperture that creates a sharp contrast of light and shadow). But there is still one extra, more important difference between the two works. Compared to Bilek's other statues, Moses is unusually plastic, which is reflected in the drapery, mainly in the intense concave

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Frantisek Bflek

Crucified, 1897, plaster, period photograph

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volume ansmg between his arms in the lap, communicating the contemplative mood of the entire statue in a very lifeli)