Cubism and Rondocubism
While the studios of Picasso and Braque were key to Cubism in the applied arts, Cubism in architecture is a unique, purely Czech phenomenon. The Czech Republic is, evidently, the only country in the world where Cubism is manifested in specific buildings. Come and take a look at this unique play of light and shadow!
The Black Madonna
Czech Cubism, an artistic style that was applied chiefly in Central European art and design in the first half of the 20th century, left its own, unique mark on Prague architecture. A true gem, in particular, is the House of the Black Madonna at the corner of Celetná street and Ovocný trh (the Fruit Market) in Prague, built between 1911-12 and designed by architect Josef Gočár. What makes the building exceptional is not only the facade, but also the Cubist floor plan and, chiefly, the influence of Cubism on the interiors. On the first floor, take a look at Grand Café Orient, for which Gočár designed a number of stylised elements, for example the bar, chandeliers and lamps. Also built in the Cubist style is Gočár‘s pavilion in Bohdaneč Spa. Other of Gočár's works are the Bauer Villa not far from Kolín and the grammar school in Hradec Králové.
Other architects also decorated the Czech Republic with Cubist structures. In Prague, not far from the National Theatre, is the Cubist building Diamant and on Rašínovo nábřeží by the river you can pass a triplex of homes by Josef Chochol. Almost at the peak of the middle building of the triplex you can find a sculpture depicting the legend of nearby Vyšehrad. The only Cubist lamp post is also found in Prague. This lamp, designed by architect Emil Zajíček, stands on Jungmanovo náměstí. Both the post and the lamp itself received Cubist shapes.
Cubism was only the start
Following the First World War a new style developed out of Cubism: Rondocubism. One excellent example of this style is the building of the former Czechoslovak Legions bank in Na Poříčí street in Prague, where the original, austere geometric edges, cubes and pyramids are supplemented by crescents and circles in the spirit of national Slavic traditions. Rondocubism was also widely applied in industrial architecture.
Cubist galleries and museums
Want to find out more about Cubism? Then visit the National Gallery’s permanent exhibition of the devoted to 20th- and 21st-century art, housed in the Veletržní Palace in Prague. To sample the atmosphere of the early 20th century, you can also take a look at the Cubist Bauer villa in Libodřice, an authentic environment housing the Josef Gočár Museum and the Gallery of Cubist Design.