« A strong wave of Surrealism hit Czechoslovakia in the 1930’s, and Frantisek Vobecky (1902-1991), a painter who used photography to document his images, got caught up in it. He began to explore photomontage in 1935. His early assemblages were of items with logical connections, like the pins, cloth and string in »Composition » (1935). But logic was soon supplanted by fantasy. Light, shadows (particularly those cast by items outside of the picture) and disparate objects were juxtaposed in dreamy arrangements that often had an erotic component.
A striking one is »A Melancholic Day » (1936), in which a morose looking part of a face (the brow, eye and nose) shares a cloudy ground with a silver spoon, a large floating drape of black cloth, the carefully coiffed back of a woman’s head, a small nosegay and a tiny round table. A perhaps more celebratory arrangement is »The Errant Equestrian » (1936), in which a cutout image of a ballet dancer, tutu flaring, is poised on the back of a horse, against a background of grassy rocks. A nearby candlestick sprouts a phallic flower.
Of more interest though are works by Vobecky’s Surrealist contemporaries Jindrich Styrsky (1899-1942) and Jindrich Heisler (1914-1953), which appear in a companion show, »Czech Avant-Garde. » Unlike Vobecky’s, Styrsky’s images were taken directly from life, but he managed to find the offbeat and quixotic at every turn. A dead-white Japanese mask hanging near a ceiling and a beatific-looking nude mannequin without arms are two that stand out.
Heisler, who hid from the Nazis in Prague for five years, somehow managed — with little in the way of photographic materials — to turn out searing »photographiques. » On light-sensitive glass plates, he poured rubber cement, then manipulated it into shapes. The plates were exposed to light to make »camera-less » images. One, from a 1944 cycle titled »De la Meme Farine » (roughly, »cut from the same cloth »), shows three groping humanoid figures in a devastated landscape. It is an affecting image. » by Grace Glueck the New-York Time
František Vobecký- Untitled, 1936
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