The art of Vojtech Preissig, 1873–1944

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Self-portrait.

There are times when one of my searches for work by an unfamiliar artist turns up results that are much more varied than I anticipated. Vojtech Preissig is one such artist, a Czech graphic designer, printmaker and typographer whose name I’d only registered in the past via digital revivals of his type designs. Preissig’s career follows a similar trajectory to that of his contemporary František Kupka: both artists started out working their own variations on fin-de-siècle art—Symbolism in Kupka’s case, Art Nouveau design in Preissig’s—before finding their way to abstraction in the 1930s. Both artists also worked for a time with Alphonse Mucha in Paris, until Preissig moved to the USA where he spent a number of years teaching.

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When reading about European artists of this generation there’s always the question of how they fared during the Second World War. Preissig was among the less fortunate. After his return to Prague he spent his last few years putting his print skills to the service of the Czech Resistance. He ended his days in the concentration camp at Dachau.

A monograph, Vojtech Preissig by Lucie Vlckova, was published in 2012.

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Day (1899).

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Night (1899).

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Dreaming (1899).

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Dawn.

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Spring (1900).

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Blue Bird (1903).

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Castle in the Snow (1908).

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The Munsey magazine (1911).

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The Munsey magazine (1911).

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Boston Harbour.

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Winter Theme.

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Art Fundamental—Proportion.

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Art Fundamental—Concentration.

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Peacock Feather (1936).

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Composition with Crosses (1936).

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Spiders (1936).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Poster art in Vienna
Kupka in Cocorico

4 thoughts on “The art of Vojtech Preissig, 1873–1944”

  1. Some lovely images here. The Japanese print is very evident as a model in some of them; not unusual at all for Nouveau designers, but a couple of these could *be* actual Japanese prints. I love “Castle in the Snow”! On the other hand, I wonder about his full commitment to Abstraction, as seen in the ‘thirties works.

  2. Jim: Some of his landscape prints have an almost photographic quality. As for the abstract art, Kupka was more successful there but Preissig might have done more if he’d survived the war.

    Eric: Thanks!

  3. Thanks again, John, for introducing me to another artist of whom I was unaware. Despite being a great admirer of Art Nouveau, I hadn’t previously come across Preissig. Some lovely stuff. Certainly some strong similarities with Mucha. Like Jim, I love ‘Castle in the Snow”. I even recognised it as Prague Castle – I was there many years ago but not in winter.

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