The following Czech Surrealism illustrations come to us from Adolf Hoffmeister (1902-1973) from the 1967 Bratislava published book, Lautreamont’s Poesies. Adolf was a poet, novelist, translator and editor as well as a lawyer and politician, but above all a brilliant cartoonist, a great illustrator, author of the original collages, witty writer, poet, playwright, organizer of international exhibitions and art collector, and thanks to his work belongs to the pre-war personalities that shaped the Czech avant-garde.
He was also very socially active. In 1920 he became a founder of the Association of modern culture – Devětsil, (the Czech Avant-Garde group) and was a member of the Association of Fine Artists, member kulturněpolitických organizations (Left Front, Society for economic and cultural rapprochement with the new Russia, the Club of Czech and German theater workers).
He edited one of the main Czech daily newspapers, Lidové noviny (1928-30) and the main literary paper, Literární noviny (1930-32).
He was also a talented artist and caricaturist, often illustrating his own work. Hoffmeister set up an anti-fascist magazine, Simplicus, in the 1930s after the German satiric magazine Simplicissimus was banned by the Nazis.
He also wrote the libretto for a children’s opera, Brundibar, with music by the Czech composer Hans Krása in 1938; the opera was performed fifty-five times by children in Terezín concentration camp where Krása was interned.
Hoffmeister emigrated to France in 1939, but moved on to Morocco when France fell. There, he was arrested but escaped from an internment camp and arrived in New York via Lisbon and Havana in 1941.
He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 and worked for UNESCO. After the Communist coup in February 1948, Hoffmeister was named French ambassador by the new neo-Stalinist regime but was recalled shortly after.
He worked then as a lecturer in fine art at the Academy of Applied Arts. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Hoffmeister emigrated to France once again in 1969, but decided to return in 1970.
He died three years later in the Orlický mountains, judged by the regime to be a non-person.
We think not.
Rest in Peace Mr. Hoffmeister – and thank you for all of your contributions.
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