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Dealing with not only specific artists in the context of their national identity, but also with overarching themes in the rise of modernism, Czech Modern Painters is an articulate and well-researched overview of modern art styles from the former Czechoslovakia, focusing on impressionism, the Art Nouveau movement, and cubism. This study covers three generations of artists who changed the landscape of traditional art at the turn of the twentieth century, and looks specifically at how these artists pushed the boundaries of and came into conflict with the work of their predecessors. To do so, Petr Wittlich has combed through each artist’s work in art school, galleries, and new art journals, while tracking each individual’s own personal style. The result is a beautifully illustrated book that carefully explains the aesthetic theory of each movement, and provides biographical information on the leading personalities of the period and brief, informative captions for each reproduction. Wittlich also investigates the profound influence of capitalism, and the way in which these artists departed from the prevailing aesthetic tastes of their contemporaries. Czech Modern Painters has the magisterial quality of a textbook for students of modern art styles while maintaining readability, making it appealing to art lovers and historians alike.
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Petr Wittlich is professor at the Institute of Art History at Charles University Prague.
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