Ladislav Zívr (1909–1980) is without a doubt one of the most important representatives of modern Czech art. As a sculptor, he attempted to work with all the impulses provided by the European avant-garde – from Cubism and Surrealism to Civilism and the imaginative abstraction of the 1960s – but at the same time he did not to forget about timeless values such as those he admired in ancient Egyptian statues or prehistoric monuments.
Zívr’s work developed in parallel with the art of such sculptural legends as Jacques Lipchitz, Henri Laurens, Hans Arp and Henri Moore, with the difference that Zívr had to struggle against unfavorable political conditions. His greatest success was his participation in the 1962 Venice Biennale, but the communist regime prevented him from following through on the agreed acquisition of his sculptures by the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
One of Zívr’s characteristic qualities was his concentrated approach to working with the material – most commonly fired clay. This choice of material represented a sculptural continuation of his family’s pottery-making tradition. He aimed for a simplicity and fullness of form, emphasizing its effects through color just as the leading Czech sculptor Otto Gutfreund had done before him.
All these qualities stand out in this book on Ladislav Zívr, thanks to Ondřej Polák’s extraordinarily forceful photographs. In addition, archival photographs depict numerous of the sculptor’s no longer extant works. The book’s author, Jaromír Typlt, traces the transformation of Zívr’s work over the course of more than five decades, bringing each chapter alive with numerous citations from the sculptor’s mostly unpublished diaries. Another important part of the book is its annotated catalogue of Zívr’s sculptural work.
Czech Photography of the 20th Century, published simultaneously in Czech and English versions, is the first book to present the main trends, figures, and works of Czech photography from the beginning to the end of the last century to such a large extent. Its 517 plates include not only the most important, well-known photographs and photomontages, but also works that have long been forgotten or are published for the first time. The book is arranged in seventeen chapters, supplemented with chronologies of the most important events in twentieth-century Czech photography and history.