This is the first time a work by Lajos Kassák (1887–1967) features as our Artwork of the Month, but many of our previous articles have mentioned the artist’s name. This is due to Kassák’s uniquely central position in early-twentieth-century Hungarian avant-garde culture. He was not just a visual artist, but also a writer, poet, editor, organiser and thinker. Artists as important and diverse as Sándor Bortnyik (1893–1976), János Mattis-Teutsch (1884–1960), or Lajos Vajda (1908–1941) all belonged to Kassák’s circle before continuing on their separate paths. The significance of Kassák’s periodicals and collaborative projects is so great that they can easily steal the limelight from his individual artistic output. This is how Kassák became a recurring background figure on this blog, and it is high time for him to come into focus.
In 1934, two Czechoslovak films were sent to the Venice Film Festival. The first was Gustav Machatý’s Extase from 1933, which not only brought its protagonist, the young Hedy Lamarr, to fame, but also caused outrage for its explicit presentation of female sexuality. The second film was altogether different: it had no stars, no dramatic narrative arc, no great love story. It was not even a box office success, though critics lauded its artistic value as a ‘film poem’ that, as museum director Josef Polák claimed in the Prague daily Lidové noviny, exemplified ‘what cinema could be when the moving shadows are not simply a commodity’: The Earth Sings (Zem spieva, 1933), written and directed by Karel Plicka (1894–1987), interwar Czechoslovakia’s most influential artist-ethnographer.
CRAACE is please to co-host this online event with Fulbright Czech Republic and Společnost pro queer paměť.
On 11 May 2022 at 8 pm CET
Dr. Karla Huebner, author of Magnetic Woman:Toyen and the Surrealist Erotic (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020)
will discuss this gender-ambiguous Czech surrealist artist, who was born Marie Čermínová (1902–1980). Toyen’s early life in Prague made it possible to become a force in three avant-garde groups – Devětsil, Prague surrealism, and Paris surrealism – and also to emphasize erotic themes in many works of visual art. Dr. Huebner will focus on Toyen’s construction of gender and eroticism in relation to the artist’s historical context as a gender nonconforming person and probable sexual minority during the First Republic.