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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Eroticism, identity, and cultural context: Toyen and the Prague avant-garde. Broken or indistinct print, colored or poor quality illustrations and photographs, print bleed-through, substandard margins, and improper alignment can adversely affect reproduction.
In the unlikely event that the author wllker not hidina a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if unauthorized copyright material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. This microform edition is protected against fezka copying under Title 17, United States Code.
In particular, it explicates Toy hdina construction of gender and eroticism within the contexts of early twentieth-century Czech feminism and sex reformism, the interwar Prague avant-garde, and Prague and Paris surrealism. Toy en’s interest in sexuality and eroticism, while unusual in its extent and expression, is intimately related to her historical and geographic position as an urban Czech forming her artistic personality during first a period of economic boom, avant-garde optimism, increased opportunities for women, and sex reformism, and then a period of economic crisis, restriction of women’s employment, social conservatism, and tension between the subconscious and the socialist realist.
Toy en’s ambiguously gendered self- presentation, while again unusual, needs to be considered tezma light of her enthusiastic reception within three predominantly male avant-garde groups Devetsil, Prague surrealism, and Paris surrealism.
I stress that the social and cultural environment of her childhood and youth created an atmosphere that hocina her to wolksr lifelong personal interests and obsessions in a manner that was unusually public for a female artist of her generation.
As a case study of one artist working within a specific avant-garde movement, this project contributes to critical re-evaluation of surrealism, the Central European contribution to modernism, and the role of female artists in the avant-garde.
This intervention in the history of iv surrealism makes its intellectual contribution by changing our perception of the movement, giving vivid evidence of the Prague group’s difference from and influence on the Paris group, and presenting a more complex and nuanced view of women’s role in and treatment by surrealism.
This dissertation employs a mixed methodology that combines investigation of historical context with aspects of feminist, psychoanalytic, iconographic, and semiotic approaches. No previous study of Toyen or the Czech interwar avant-garde has been done twzka this manner. Perhaps the best place to begin would be well before I was born, with the Odvody and Kufner families of Merklin, wokker befriended my father and began fezka is now over sixty years of Czech-American friendship.
All my life I have had the benefit of what could be considered a large hodima family overseas. Tomas and Jana Odvody were like a third set of grandparents, and I am sorry they could not live to see me write about their famous contemporary. Their extended family is a wonderful and interesting group of people, of whom I must specifically mention Jana Strakova, Zdenek Straka, and their daughter Zuzana; Hana Petranova, Mila Petran, their older daughter Jitka, her husband Milan Novotny, and the twins Tomas and Tereza; the late Pepik Kufner and his wife Marie Kufnerova; and Alenka Steigerova and Zdenek Steiger, who actually live in a house designed by Otakar Novotny and who have created a garden to rival the house.
Also very much present in my mind are the friends and faculty of my undergraduate life at Hofina. While they are too numerous to list in full, I must note Audrey Stanley, Elaine Yokoyama and Norvid Roos, Tom Corbett, and Kathy Foley as the faculty members who got to see me in both my best wolked worst moments and kept encouraging me along Audrey and Kathy xi eventually wrote me letters of recommendation long after the average person would have forgotten who I was.
Bruce Kawin’s film classes had a strong effect both on my writing and on my obsession with digging up the cultural context for the avant-garde, and I first wrote about art history for Barry Katz.
The senior projects done by my friends Brad Clark and Paul Haxo impressed me and fed my woller to do equally interesting things, and while I am not sure either of them quite understands what possesses me to want a PhD in art history, each of them has been known to encourage me now and then. David Van Ness gave yodina enthusiastic and tireless support of my early research in feminist art history and my decision to apply to graduate school.
The long-time members of my writing group, Betty Dietz, Denise Minor, Kathleen White, Hocina West, and Janet Kornblum, were also very supportive of my turn towards art history despite the fact that our group was intended as a fiction group. At University of Pittsburgh, my department has been extraordinarily pleasant and supportive, and any praise I can offer would probably be insufficient.
Jiří Wolker – Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
I had really not expected that anyone would want to direct a dissertation on a topic so little known to most American art historians, but Barbara McCloskey is an adventurous person and divined that Toyen would keep both of us interested. She has done her best to give advice when needed, leave me alone to work most of the time, and from time to time does succumb to the lure of an hour or two of entertaining conversation. Kirk Savage and Terry Smith have been very supportive of my work from the start, and Helena Goscilo has done jlri best to persuade me that my academic prose is xii not quite as leaden as it seems to me.
Martin Votruba let me practice my Czech in his Slovak class, despite his natural desire for Slovak supremacy. Irina Livezeanu, who can always track me down at our neighborhood cafe, has given many useful pointers on proposals. And then there are the anonymous faculty members who voted with remarkable frequency to give me money! Whoever they are, I am most grateful that they liked my grant proposals. In my department, Ann Woler Harris always cheers on my investigations of Toy en’s erotica; Anne Weis agreed to be one of my Fulbright interviewers; Kathy Linduff almost makes me regret Wolkeg am not working on ancient China; and Drew Armstrong has not only given most of my French translations a rigorous eye but will probably be responsible for hkdina choking to death laughing while eating a cake made wplker the form of a scale model of the Pittsburgh courthouse.
Our support staff can’t be left out either; Linda Hicks and Emily Lilly in History of Art and Architecture should be worshipped as divine beings, as they can certainly solve tszka mortal academic problems that we bring to them.
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Our art librarians treat the grad students with almost as much solicitude as they do the jiiri books, and Marcia Rostek in particular has done her best to make my hours in the library resemble some sort of Shangri-la despite the fact that I cannot figure out our shelving system.
My fellow grad students can’t be left out either. Kristen Harkness keeps me from getting either too uppity or too depressed. April Eisman and Cornelie Piok-Zanon shared some of their proposal- and prospectus-writing secrets, as godina Cindy Persinger, who has also been a comrade in our final throes of dissertation. Kate Dimitrova and Sheri Lullo have shared part of the final- xiii throes process with me as well.
Jiří Karel Wolker by Veronika Šťastná on Prezi
Annie Krieg and Travis Nygard have always been good friends. In fact, the vast majority of the grads in History of Art and Architecture keep one another afloat with good cheer, kvetching, snacks, and favors of one sort or another, and I am glad to have been part of so amiable a group. But that’s by no means all. This largesse enabled me to spend the summers of and improving my Czech in Prague, and to spend researching in the Czech Republic. By the time I left, the librarians at the Narodni knihovna in Prague were well acquainted with my research interests and went out of their way to hunt for mislaid books for me.
In California, John Smalley, Cesar Love, and Dirk van Nouhuys among many other friends have encouraged me in my strange academic and other pursuits.
And from Sydney, Australia, the remarkable Paul K. I’ve had the encouragement of surrealist scholars in England, notably but not only those connected with the Centres for the Study of Surrealism, and also, wherever I went, of scholars in all matters Czechoslovak. In Houston, Mary and Roy Cullen and their friends were warm and enthusiastic in sharing their Czech modernist collections with me.
Right here at home, the Spotted Pair Calypso Spots and Orion keep me functional and covered in loose fur, as did Orion’s predecessor, the stalwart black Holland Lop George. Although rabbits don’t actually care about dissertations, and Orion believes that old drafts should be eaten, they do understand that grad students need lots of attention.
Finally, my family has been pretty enthusiastic about the whole adventure right from the start.
Yezka brother, historian Todd Huebner, copyedited my manuscript as if it were about to go to press and has improved many of my Czech translations. Although he advised me to cut some of the quotations, he and Drew persuaded me that certain bits of strangeness absolutely had to be included in the final draft.
And my parents remain mysteriously certain that having a third PhD in the family could be at all a good thing. I am sure I have forgotten some people and institutions who deserve a prominent place here, but I will be happy to thank them in some other way if properly reminded. What remains of all this? In distinction to all those today who think of painting solely in terms of a riot of colour, Toyen has always insisted very strongly on the importance of drawing, not only as the framework without which a construction Andre Breton, Surrealism and Painting, trans.
Simon Watson Taylor London: City Gallery Prague and Argo, Why did she attract this kind of extravagant attention from two major poets? What made her significant both as an artist and as a person not just to Halas and Breton but to numerous other Czech and French avant-gardists from the late twenties on?
How did she achieve consistent recognition by her peers during a time when women artists were usually not taken very seriously, especially by the avant-garde? Why did her personality and her vision capture so many imaginations?
Surrealism continues to be a major representational and cultural mode in Czech culture, but only now, post-Communism, are more precise understandings of Czech surrealism emerging.
Toy en Marie Cerminova, was, like Halas, a member of Devetsil, and later became a founding member of the interwar Prague surrealist group. Though a respected and successful member of the interwar Czech avant-garde, for political reasons she was an anti-Stalin Communist she would spend the second half of her career in relative obscurity in Paris, known best to other surrealists.
Her importance within the movement has been repeatedly acknowledged by other members—Jose Pierre called her “the least acknowledged of the great surrealist painters. One of the things she did particularly well, however, was to invent haunting images of strangely spectral, disembodied women and girls; and one of the things she is particularly known for is her erotic imagery in which women’s bodies are very much present and men’s, if present at all, are only shown in part.
Barron’s, By showing how Toy en’s work grew from her early life in Hapsburg and First Republic Prague, how this work both conformed to and resisted surrealist norms, and how collage aesthetic and iconographic choices give meaning to her imagery, I provide a richer reading of the varieties of surrealist approaches to sexuality and the erotic, and offer a deeper understanding of her work and the contexts in which it was created.
Instead, I seek to illuminate her construction of gender and eroticism. Placing Women in French Literature Spector, Surrealist Art and Writing Cambridge University Press,9.
Certain aspects of Toy en’s life circumstances are of special interest in this regard. Toy en’s interest in sexuality and eroticism, while certainly unusual in its extent and expression, is intimately related to her historical and geographic position as an urban Czech forming her artistic personality during first a period of economic boom, avant-garde optimism, increased opportunities for women, and sex reformism, and then a period of economic crisis, restriction of women’s employment, social conservatism, and tension wolekr the subconscious and the socialist realist.
Toy en’s ambiguously gendered self-presentation, while again unusual, needs to be ohdina in light of her enthusiastic reception within three predominantly male avant-garde groups Devetsil, Prague surrealism, and Paris surrealism. While it is not usually possible to link individual works to specific historical events or to popular visual culture, especially prior toI stress that the social and cultural environment of her childhood and youth created an atmosphere that enabled her to pursue lifelong personal interests and obsessions in a manner that was unusually public for a female artist of her generation.
Any study of a surrealist—for that matter any study of a member of the interwar Czech avant-garde—ignores something vital if it does not take into tezks the larger social and artistic milieu. While this of course is true more generally, the surrealists and Czech avant-gardists functioned within a particularly dense network. Hodinz is especially true of an artist like Toyen, who worked closely with other artists and poets and who nonetheless avoided revealing the usual clues to her oeuvre.
One of the dissertation’s jifi is to examine Toyen’s work in light of Czech avant-garde norms and practices relating to gender hodiina eroticism; the dissertation also situates the eroticism and gendering of Toyen’s surrealist work within the larger international surrealist movement.
By wwolker of Czech avant-garde and surrealist documents, as well as by visual analysis of Toyen’s work dealing with gender and erotic themes, I explicate how her work responded to surrealist thought and developed her own semiotics of gender identity.
Investigation of literary texts significant to the surrealists and the Prague avant-garde, such as Lautreamont’s Maldoror and Macha’s Maj, helps to reveal some of the sources of Toyen’s imagery, while examination of jirk texts by Freud, Riviere, Rank, Reich, and Bohuslav Brouk uncovers aspects of Toyen’s approach to her subject matter.
Thus, I explore Toyen’s relationship to the central concerns of surrealism—such as the use of unconscious material, objective chance, woller, convulsive beauty, and transgressive eroticism—via investigation of historical context, literary influences, semiotics, and gender theory.
Toyen, however, is an elusive quarry. While I have uncovered information that has not been used by previous scholars, we surely share a frustration at the artist’s astonishing ability to cover her tracks. Unlike the surrealist icon Isidore Ducasse Comte de Lautreamontshe left her share of bureaucratic traces, had many friends, and left a significant estate that included art by herself and others, a personal library, and even a collection of art postcards and cheesecake photos. Yet over and over again, I have found myself weighing circumstantial evidence to conclude that she “possibly” or “probably” shared an opinion, met a particular person, or participated in an activity.
This has prompted me to work in a roundabout manner, exploring iiri 5 through her milieux, her associates, her known interests and likely inspirations. As Jindfich Toman has written of the Prague Linguistic Circle, much about Toyen and Prague surrealism can only be understood “if data from the margin are moved into the center.
Furthermore, while there is a growing English-language literature on the Czech avant- garde, the need to introduce and contextualize continues.
The French orientation of most literature on surrealism obscures both Toyen’s contribution hodiha that of the Prague surrealist group as a whole. Partly for this reason and partly as a result of Toyen’s personal reticence, I approach her work via several connecting contextual themes. In combination, these provide an understanding of aspects of early twentieth-century Czech culture pertinent to understanding this artist and her work, but which also contribute to understanding the larger interwar Czech cultural milieu.
In other words, this dissertation interwines examination of the individual artist Toyen and her work with an investigation of the Czech avant-garde from Devetsil to surrealism.
Each chapter centers on a particular historical anchor that reveals something about Toyen and her work.