Artwork of the Month, July 2020: The Black Boy by Helena Johnová (1912–c. 1939)

The Black Boy was the most commercially successful work of the Czech ceramicist Helena Johnová (1884–1962) with nearly 900 sold items of various colour versions. The black figure with exaggerated facial features, however, may well raise eyebrows today, but also a number of questions. These are worth exploring in connection with interwar art and design in Central Europe, as well as with current political issues. The most obvious ones relate to ethnic and gender stereotypes, which still resonate today thanks to the #BlackLivesMatter and #metoo movements. Many people, even academic scholars, argue that the current Czech and, by extension, Central European society has never had problems with racism or sexism, and that therefore issues highlighted by these movements are irrelevant in this geographical and political context. If we look at Johnová’s work more closely, we can, however, point to deep-rooted beliefs that shape today’s understanding of race and racial equality; we can question the assumption that because there were no colonies, there were no stereotypical views of race.

Continue reading

We Are Awarding PhD Studentships

The CRAACE (Continuity/Rupture: Art and Architecture in Central Europe 1918-1939) team is inviting applications from those interested in undertaking PhD research at the Department of Art History, Masaryk University, Brno.

Proposals are particularly encouraged from students with an interest in modernism from the first half of the 20th century, focusing on central and east-central Europe. This may be about topics in the history of art, design and architecture, art criticism and theory, as well as the historiography of art. Students will be able to write their research dissertation in English or Czech.

Successful candidates will receive a studentship of CZK 24,000 per month. They will also be eligible for additional support in meeting research costs.

The submission period for applications is: 1 August – 30 November 2020, for enrolment in Spring 2021.

Applicants will need to apply to Masaryk University through the usual application procedure, including a formal research proposal. The details can be  found here: https://www.phil.muni.cz/en/studies/doctoral-degree-study-programme/how-to-apply

Successful applicants will be expected to register for the programme by 1 March 2021. Funding will be available until the end of 2023.

For an initial informal discussion, please contact: Prof. Matthew Rampley, rampley@muni.cz.

More information on the CRAACE project can be found here: https://craace.com

For more information on the Department of Art History see here: https://arthistory.phil.muni.cz/