Josef Čapek, Czech Modernist Innovator

  • Posted on Feb 12, 2012 by

The Frick Art Reference Library and the libraries of the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) offer many resources for scholars investigating Central European modernism. In conducting research related to the visual arts in Prague between the two World Wars, I was impressed by the number of publications dedicated to this topic and particularly to the highly important Czech modernist artist, critic, author, journalist, playwright, and stage designer Josef Čapek (1887–1945) about whom unfortunately little is known outside the Czech Republic. He is beloved among Czech children as the author and illustrator of the Doggie and Pussycat series of stories, but his importance within the modernist movement far exceeds this aspect of his popularity. In addition to his own work, he wrote plays with his brother, Karel (1890–1938), including the seminal Insect Play and R.U.R.