Josef Hlaváček: Questions for Zdeněk Sýkora

Until recently, optical (retinal, Hard Edge, Kinetic) art was the latest word in geometric abstraction. In the beginning there were Piet Mondrian’s apparently cool compositions from 1913 as well as the earlier works of Kazimir Malevich and other Russian Constructivists; it was then no accident that Weimar and Dessau Bauhaus synthesised these endeavours. It was also mostly Bauhaus teachers and students who, as the second wave, spread the ideals of geometric abstraction and constructivism throughout Europe and brought these ideas to the United States (Max Bill, Richard Mortenesen, etc.). Foretokened by a number of endeavours in Bauhaus, the third wave – particularly in the latter half of the Fifties -  gave movement to  the rigid compositions of first and second periods; this may have started with the founding of the Italian art group Movimento arte concreta (MAC, 1948), and shows such as the Exat 51 exhibit in Zagreb (1951), the exhibition of Concrete art in Zurich [1960 – art groups Equipo 57, T 60 (Milan), Zero (Germany) and others] and, finally, the exhibition named simply New Tendency (which featured Sýkora in Zagreb in 1964) manifest similar efforts. /Ed. note: In fact, Zdeněk Sýkora took part in the New Tendency 3 exhibition in Zagreb in 1965./

With the exception of František Kupka’s monolithic, lone figures, the conditions for developing art of this type cannot be found in Czech art. Inspiration from Cubism developed in a different direction; sometimes entirely faithful to the French tenets of Cubism, at other times – following the brief interlude offered by the art group Devětsil, whose endeavours were characterised more by Karel Teige’s contributions to theory than any paintings that were created – in the direction of imaginative art. Even years after the end of World War II, nothing has changed this lack of tradition. This made the first “Kinetic” Grey Structure, exhibited by Zdeněk Sýkora in 1963, even more astonishing. This and a number of additional paintings were created spontaneously, but before long collaboration with a mathematician enters the scene and subsequent Structures are created with the aid of a computer that receives tasks from the artist. As a result, Sýkora introduced “post-painterly abstraction” to the Czech art scene. After presenting a few basic historical facts, on this occasion I will forego attempting to provide a theoretical interpretation of Sýkora’s work and consider it more appropriate to pose a number of questions to him regarding the issue of optical art in general and the genesis of his artwork in particular.

Before I answer the first question, I would like to say a few words about your introduction. In it you spoke of how Kupka’s example is singular in Czech art. This means that you have accepted the myth that has been fuelled in our country about the predominantly lyrical tone of Czech art, or in other words, you share the opinion that there is no tradition of Constructivist art here. Fortunately, this predominantly lyrical tone is only characteristic of Czech art criticism which, even when voiced by its major exponents, has had more in common with literature. You see, it is much easier to provide a literary transposition of an artwork than to grasp its essence in terms of form: this is also why art that is easy to write about is preferred over art that must first and foremost be understood.

Art that has to refer to and justify itself to tradition is not exactly healthy. At any rate, art always has a tradition, whether it wants to or not. Constructivist art also has a tradition – here just as anywhere else. Let me give two examples that epitomize this: the question lies in whether we view Antonín Slavíček as a master at portraying the atmosphere of historical Prague and the emotive poverty of Kameničky or a brilliant builder of monumental paintings outstanding for their extraordinarily constructive spirit and unerringly perfect eye, or if in Jan Preisler we see merely a Czech interpreter of Art Nouveau and at the same time disregard his great contribution to the modern interpretation of composition, work with the constructive characteristics of colour and overall originality with colour. I am not even listing examples that are evident even to the casual observer: Bohumil Kubišta, Josef Čapek, František Foltýn, Vojtěch Preissig ... Till now, questions surrounding tradition have only been a subject for manoeuvring, so it would be best to ignore these questions until people are found who are competent or more competent to deal with them in an unprejudiced and responsible manner.

I suppose we will start with the most basic question: which of the names in standard usage do you consider to be the most appropriate one for your art technique? There is talk about geometric art, Constructivism, at a recent exhibition (Responsive Eye) /ed. note: The Responsive Eye exhibition took place at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1965. This exhibition introduced the term optical art (Op art) to the international art sceene. Exhibitors included Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, Max Bill, Frank Stella, Getulio Alviani, Josef Albers, Piero Dorazio and the art group Equipo 57. Several of the artists represented there were exhibited at the "New Tendencies" shows in Zagreb; Zdeněk Sýkora had been a regular participant there since 1965. He and Josef Hlaváček followed contemporary events on the art scene very carefully, as can be seen in Hlaváček's 1965 translation of Williama C. Seitz's introduction in the Responsive Eye catalogue kept in the Lenka and Zdeněk Sýkora Archive (LZS Archive). They went on to participate in New Tendencies in Zagreb in 1969 – Sýkora as an exhibitor and Josef Hlaváček as a symposium lecturer./ the Americans coined the term Retinal Art (Josef Albers himself protested against such a name and understanding of this type of art, pointing out that the artwork is not just about irritating the retina), but the terms Hard Edge (particularly for Albers’ school) as well as the very general name of Op art are also used. There are also reservations about the term Kinetic Structure (the argument is that the object is not moving right now, but only potentially moving – movement occurs upon observation, at the retina).

In most cases, all of these names are just designations for what is now a very broad area of artistic activity, one I would define as broadly as possible as “art without brushwork”. With this name we set apart those tendencies in historical and contemporary art in which the final result is decisive, and differentiate them from those that emphasise the creative process; the terms classic or romantic lines are also used but are less precise. The term “Optical art” is not universal (even though it is sometimes used this way) – but designates those tendencies whose objective is to create the optical illusion of space or movement (Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, etc.). I also do not like the term “Retinal” because all art is retinal, but none is solely retinal. I simply call my work Structures as this corresponds to the combinatory principle I use, and the effect of movement or instability is merely a by-product of this. Decide when the term “kinetic” should truly be used? This is an insoluble question for contemporary scholarship – starting with philosophy. In this case only an agreement can be reached.

Could you reconstruct your path to Structures? As far as I know, following the wartime and post-war Cubist interlude, there were long years of post-impressionist landscape paintings – mainly the countryside, ultimately in the spirit of Pierre Bonnard. After 1958 one could observe a shift away from the detailed depiction of the countryside and a turn toward a more summary interpretation of observed reality. The Gardens cycle (a part of which was exhibited at Prague’s Municipal House in 1959) /ed. note: This in fact was an exhibition by Tvůrčí skupina v Umělecké besedě (Umělecká beseda Art Group), 12 April – 15 May 1960, Prague Municipal House. Sýkora exhibited two paintings (as a guest): Garden I – oil/canvas, 100 x 74 cm, 1959; and Garden II – oil/canvas, 65 x 76 cm, 1959. The jury included Karel Lidický, Cyril Bouda and Martin Salcman, Sýkora's teachers and colleagues from the Faculty of Education at Charles University./ already represented painting that used observed reality only as an impulse in organising the independently existing picture surface, one that is still given a painterly treatment, but consists of large organic forms. 1960 represented a departure from the sensory magic of colour; it is as if the shapes, in most cases flat, were trying to decide between two possibilities: strict geometric abstraction or the uncommitted nature of free gestural brushwork that imparts an immediate experience. In 1961, traces of brushwork are still seen on the austere and balanced geometric compositions and sometimes even tall colourful structures. The next year, though, at the Nová síň gallery in Prague you exhibited (together with the art group MS 58) /ed. note: This was an exhibition by Skupina MS 63 (MS 63 Group – the acronym MS stands for malíři - sochaři [painters and sculptors] in Czech). The exhibition took place in February – March 1963 at Nová síň in Prague. In addition to Zdeněk Sýkora, the group was comprised of Karel Čermák, Václav Irmanov, Bohuslav Lamač, Jiří Novotný, Jiří Patera, Jiří Procházka and Jana Irmanová as a guest./ large canvasses with massive flat, smooth, neutrally-coloured shapes which in places used illusionistic reverse perspective. At the time the exhibition took place, however, Grey Structure had already been created and was completed in 1963. If I have described this development correctly, could you say what idea about painting you followed in individual periods, and how that idea changed or what modifications your fundamental outlook has undergone?

It would take me a long time to reconstruct my entire journey from the beginning sometime in 1940. I will attempt to just cover the main features. I will start with a sort of diagram of my artistic contemplations:
1. Emotions from nature – painting – picture of the landscape
2. Emotions from nature – painting – picture
3. Painting – picture – emotions
4. Programming – calculation and execution – emotions

The historical rendition of this diagram would probably look like this: During the war, this was amateur painting influenced by all sorts of things, at first Surrealism, then the art group Skupina 42 (Group 42), and ultimately Cubism. (1) It was only after I was admitted to the academy that my systematic work as an apprentice started. Landscapes were created, at first expressed realistically, then smoothly transforming into Impressionist and then Fauvist expression; (2) This ended in 1959 with the Gardens cycle. After Gardens came paintings comprised of circular spots whose initially Fauvist colours change over to chromatic compositions of warm colours and spots (3) which gradually become more and more angular. This is then followed by geometric compositions that use pure colours, or black – grey – white, or black – grey – white rounded off with a pure colour. At the end of this period I was already working on Grey Structure, which is the start of the (4) last period. After this, a number of structures (ornamental) were created; but then I had already moved on to programming in collaboration with Jaroslav Blažek /ed. note: Jaroslav Blažek (1925 - 2007), mathematician and university professor. Finished secondary school in Louny and went on to study mathematics and descriptive geometry at Charles University in Prague, where he worked nearly his entire life. He concentrated on algebra and particularly mathematics teaching theory. In the mid-Sixties he started collaborating with Zdeněk Sýkora in the creation of Structures; he later created and exhibited his own computer graphic art. / and constructed sculptures, areas I continue to be concerned with to this day.

Finally, the human rendition of this diagram:
1. Hard work – a little happiness
2. Hard work – a little happiness
3. Hard work – a little happiness
4. Hard work – hard work – a little more happiness

Understandably, the first three periods each had their own prime examples:
1. Antonín Slavíček, Jindřich Prucha, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse
2. Henri Matisse, Serge Poliakoff
3. František Kupka, Auguste Herbin, Victor Vasarely
In the fourth period, that is now, I only have a number of great loves in various periods and concepts.

Describe the creative process that let you to conceive of the first Grey Structure in 1963. At the moment when you arrived at the basic outline for this painting, you had a certain objective: did the original objective match up with the resulting effect?

As I mentioned in the previous answer, the beginning dates back to about 1962, when I made paintings of large geometric surfaces. At that time, while I was reading Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook /ed. note: Zdeněk Sýkora was chiefly fascinated by the following passage (Hlaváček's translation also appeared in the catalogue for Sýkora's exhibition at the Václav Špála Gallery in 1970): “The element which unifies the surface and produces movement is structure. This appears as structural rhythm, and may take the form of a primitive arrangement in layers or of a highly complex series of accents. Its distinguishing mark is the repetition of some unit. Parts can be taken away or added without their rhythmic character, which is based on repetition, being changed.  he crucial sentence: The structural character is dividual (divisible).”  This entire quote in fact did not come directly from Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, but from a book by Werner Haftmann: Paul Klee, Wege bildnerischen Denkens.  Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg; Fischer Bücherei KG, 1961. Josef Hlaváček translated part of this book. In his text entitled Memories are memories (Verzone, 2011) from 2003, he recalls: "Vladislav Mirvald gave me an English translation of Paul Klee's monograph written by Werner Haftmann back then. I was impressed by the chapter about the Pedagogical Sketchbook, so I translated it and asked Zdeněk Sýkora to pass the translation on to Dr. Lamač for Výtvarné umění (Art) magazine. Lamač rejected the translation because it was a translation of a translation. Nevertheless, it seemed to impress Sýkora – when he was on the bus going to Prague he mostly read about Klee's interpretation of the creation of structure while he was commuting by bus between Louny and Prague. This impetus that arose by chance from Klee apparently ended the search that followed after the two peaks described earlier and launched the risky and brave step called Grey Structure."– parts where he describes the creation of a structure – I got the idea of using a rectangular grid to split up the entire surface of the painting and then dividing the individual rectangles in the grid into five fields, each containing the same geometric shapes that would alternate between two shades of grey, black and white. I immediately started to implement this idea. While I was working I tried to have the division of grey, black and white repeat as little as possible. I did not expect anything of this, but I was absolutely obsessed with working on it. The result astounded me. Perhaps it seems like an exaggeration, but keep in mind what was contemporary at that time, what was being exhibited, what was being published in domestic and international art journals. For a brief period I did not know what to do with it, and I continued on with large geometric paintings, but I did not finish the work I was in the middle of. It was decided.

Many artists who can be categorized into New Tendencies or under the term Op art view their artwork only as a means for cultivating human perception, for increasing man’s sensitivity to reality. In my opinion, it is on the contrary – that, if we are speaking about true art, optical and kinetic creations mean something more; that they can be a model of the movement of reality (on any level – whether it be physics, chemistry or biology, or social reality). I think that your Structures are such a model. What is your opinion? Do you create them with this intention, or is their “modelization” a clearly obvious result of spontaneous artistic creation?

Activating the visual aspect of a work of art has evidently become a need for both artists and viewers. New Tendencies and similar movements deal with visual issues in a profound and responsible manner. The logical need to collaborate with the sciences, the remarkable similarity of thinking as well as the related parallel modelization of art and science, show that this is not something insignificant or seasonal. This is never about copying or illustrating a physical or biological model of fact; the specific nature of each field and their thinking remain untouched. The way this “optical art” achieved such sincere social communication without any sorts of scandals, with all civil respect I’d say, and yet against opposition from the majority of conventional critics, proves that the essence of this art is not just in cultivating human perception and heightening sensitivity. I was informed that my first Grey Structure and, understandably, the other Structures have certain characteristics in common with biological and physical models and that they correspond to the conclusions of Gestalt psychology, only after they were exhibited and specialists in various fields published this. While I was working I only thought about my own artistic problems and I continue to think about them. But since then I have been trying to work with specialists in certain scientific disciplines, it is inspirational for both sides.

All geometric art, of which Structures were a latter-day progeny, arose in opposition to the romantic gesture: instead of the angry, suffering individual, it proposed an artist who would organise and bring clarity to the chaos of reality; and in place of helpless resistance to unjust society: social planning and construction. There was a lot of naivety and utopia in this. But the will to cooperate, the will to contribute towards removing the gap between art and the audience, this constructive gesture – I think – still remained this movement’s motto. What is your opinion?

Constructive art arose out of attempts at self-purification. Demystification and anti-romanticism are truly features of this art. Some of the founders’ projection of constructive ideas onto relationships in society was truly utopian and naïve, but most of all it was pure. The need to purify relationships in society around the world is not a naïve demand, but, regrettably, it remains a utopian one. The question of removing the gap between art and the audience is certainly one of the most interesting ones. The reasons why reconciliation truly did occur are: some artists recognised that all people are angry and suffer. Art is becoming a civilian and civic activity; let the social status of the artist be the appreciation of the quality of his work, and not his work as a category. Art is once again becoming elementary and the subject of open research; it is evident that the question “Who am I?”, posed with an equal lack of prejudice, had to precede this. This then results in greater social acceptance for both the artist and art. I am, of course, speaking about all art that subscribes to these ideas, not just about constructive art. I myself have never been concerned about the gap between art and the viewer, but if certain artistic expressions, such as constructivism, contribute towards bridging that gap, then I am pleased.

Suppressing originality or at least producing another concept of originality is also part of the anti-romantic concept of geometric and geometric-based art. The artist (perhaps such as in Bauhaus or, as Vasarely asserts, in medieval times) is understood to be more of a craftsman, a constructor who performs his work well. Sometimes this rejection of originality ends in groups or teams working in anonymity. Can one, for example, consider your work with the mathematician Jaroslav Blažek to be teamwork? Would it be possible in this country for a number of artists to work collectively? If so, under which circumstances?

Please let me set the record straight about these forbidding expressions such as “anti-romantic concept” or “suppressing originality”. I will just reframe your question in a more subtle way and I will leave out the question mark. Constructive art understands the role of the individual less exclusively than Romanticism, the artist does not stand out as much from the entire overall social structure. Among other things, this results in a diminishing need for originality which, when working in teams, almost leads to anonymity. The artwork bears only the name of the group (team). My work with Jaroslav Blažek is teamwork. In this country, vanity as well as limited technical means hinder artists from working together as a team; there is probably more hope for teams comprised of an artist plus a number of other specialists. Otherwise I consider teamwork to be the only way to work for all fields.

And one more thing connected with the previous question: is it necessary to understand rejecting originality as the total rejection of origin, as the transformation of art into the implementation of rows of fixed composition elements and sets of fixed shapes? What is the case in reality? How do you sense the similarity or, on the contrary, the difference between your work and, for example, Yaacov Agam, Victor Vasarely and other artists of this type? How do you imagine geometric art will develop? 

Art, and that also includes constructivist art, is a work of man – and this is why it cannot result in such clear-cut theoretical forms. It is hard to imagine where it will go. Josef Albers answers this question, saying he hoped there would be clear heads at the front, and we share his hope. /Ed. note: Quotation from an interview conducted by Leif Sjöberg: Questions for Josef Albers, typed Czech translation in the LZS Archive./ In reality people are jostled into position by existential circumstances and their human type. I, for example, have an aversion to darkness, indefiniteness, ambiguity. This is probably the sole reason why my work is the way it is. I absolutely do not understand animosity from people who, with a typological designation or other definition, are forced to react otherwise to reality or art.

I will answer the question regarding the similarity or difference between my work and that of Vasarely more broadly, as some critics shrewdly exposed me as a Vasarely imitator. I will do their job for them, then, and provide a morphological interpretation of the difference between his oeuvre and my own artwork.

Vasarely’s oeuvre is first and foremost a consummation of neoplasticism predominantly within the boundaries of this term. It always shows the composition of artistic forms on the surface. I will now describe several of his typical methods of work.

The first type is paintings where refined geometric forms inserted into the centre of the picture area create an almost balanced unity. Warm colours are typical for these paintings.

The second type are surfaces that have been divided up by a regular square or circular grid, where the outlines of the secondary inserted set of geometric forms cut off part of the circles or squares in the basic grid; this creates the psycho-physiological effect of movement which is caused by the moving eye alternating between perceiving the basic grid and the secondary outline of the forms. A variation on this type is pictures in which, for example, the square units of the basic grid gradually shift to rhomboids and then shift back (or circles shift to ellipses etc.).

Most significant is his black and white abstraction, where the basis is dividing the plane vertically with black and white stripes that are cut through by what is usually a diagonal set of forms. At the points where these outlines intersect, the black stripes turn white and vice versa. As a result, very complicated and aggressive formations are created.

In around 1963 a type of artwork emerges in which the square grid is filled in with units, characterised by a basic square into which another geometric form has been inserted (a smaller square, a triangle, circle or ellipse). These units are again placed in squares, rectangles, triangles, etc.

Most recently there has been a series of screenprints of unrivalled perfection, in which gradual gradation is used to create the effect of movement and space.

For Vasarely, colours, even the most intense ones, are always the result of refined artistic consideration (he never works solely with their elementary force) and always have a certain metaphoric meaning – as confirmed by the stellar names of his paintings. I want to reemphasise that Vasarely always aims to achieve effects (illusions) of movement and space through the composition of graphic shapes. The character of the units he uses to fill in the grid is central, so individual units are separated from each other like joints in a mosaic, they cannot be added together, joined into new forms or divided. This is clearly not Vararely’s aim – whereas it is my sole aim. You certainly know that none of the principles listed here apply to  my work.

Now I will briefly clarify my method of working. The basic feature is that it deals with combinatoric relationships and the relative positions of a few basic elements (derived from circles or created by dividing squares) selected to that they would make it possible to join them into new units or isolate them from each other. These two conditions can be met without the elements changing their position on the plane; it is sufficient if it turns  on the spot into the necessary position in relation to the adjacent elements. The entire structure is an organic unit built precisely according to the selected rules. Turning one of the elements in the basic programme means transforming the entire structure. I think it is clear from this that this is not a matter of composing the surface, but creating elements that can be programmed and creating programs that can form the basis for creating Structures. The Structure is not confined by the edge of the painting, but continues in all directions. The aim will be entirely clear in my new works, where the basic grid is not vertical, but slanted. The edges of the selected area then intersect some of the elements, thus clearly showing that it is a segment cut out from a continuum that continues on all sides.

How do you understand the term “order”: something that is the basis of all things and that we have not encountered and experienced yet, or something that is intrinsic only to the area of the painting and can only be metaphorically carried from there to another sphere of experience and reality?

Of course there is an effort for my work to move towards or evoke a feeling of order, something that I truly understand to be the common basis for everything. For me this is the construction of Structures through which I am attempting to evoke a sense of this order. The same potential is intrinsic to all areas of the arts and sciences whose emotional potential is evident.

Is it by chance a data processor that allows you to move towards order more perfectly? Why do you use a computer in a certain phase? In order for you to correct human spontaneity in searching for the order of the painting, so that you can completely eliminate the human element from the creative process? What does the creation of Structures consist of if a number of functions are taken over by the computer? Is it possible to influence the computer somehow? If it is possible, what are the motives for doing so, what do you aim to do by influencing the computer?

The function of the data processor in my work is the same as for any other tool, but it understandably has its own defined function. When I decided to assign numerals to my artistic elements, organise and calculate them like this and then transfer the result to an artistic symbol, using a computer was a logical consequence. Otherwise I think that the use of calculations (composition grid or perspective) is known very well from the far past and is nothing new. It would also be possible to make calculations without the use of a processor, and in the beginning that is what we finally did in small trial formats; in larger formats it would have been too time-consuming: here is where the speed of the processor is put to use.

Did the typewriter eliminate the human element from literature? The data processor is a human creation and its task is to increase human potential. But you are right in that it corrects a few human inadequacies. People have a tendency to break the rules they set. In case I would be building a Structure instinctively, for example, I would not let an element repeat ten times in a row – my conventions as a painter would prevent me from allowing it. A processor does not have any such conventions, it consistently abides by the program or rules that have been established. When one works this way, the original intention can never get lost and unexpected results cannot be achieved, things which are quite the norm in spontaneous creative work (this is both its weakness and strength). If, however, both methods are sufficiently fundamental, both results have the character of homogenous diversity. As I have already explained, the creation of Structures lies in creating elements that can be programmed, configuring programs, configuring a task for the processor and, in the end, the actual implementation of the result. – I would reword the question about whether it is somehow possible to influence the computer – it is necessary to consider some of its attributes. For example, the processor has the attribute that when reading a program, it progresses through line by line of “memory” like a person reading pages of a book, i.e. from left to right and gradually from top to bottom. This has inherent consequences on the result. If, for example, I would enter (program) a vertical dark line on the axis of the format, the result would shift somewhat, as if it were smudged to the right. We helped overcome this by having the processor read odd lines normally and even lines from right to left, backwards.

You have shown, then, which place the artist has and which the processor has. But if we take a look at the creative process step by step, it seems to me that the processor is missing from the final phase, the implementation phase, one which for now you must carry out with the tools of Cennino Cennini. How do others deal with this and how do you help yourself? This may also be related to the other side of the coin: what implementation, what use would the concepts for your Structures require? Besides standard oil paintings, what have you been successful at implementing so that it would satisfy your intention? 

In all fields, the data processor acts as an aid always within the work process – it itself is not a producer. For exhibition purposes, where the subject is mainly to demonstrate a concept, for transportation purposes as well as with regard to the wealth and durability of the paint on the canvas, my method is no different than Cennini’s. In addition, I use airbrushes and templates where appropriate. So this is not oil painting, but the use of oil paints. I use synthetic materials, such as latex, only where it can be anticipated that it will not affect the durability of the result. If execution is perfect, then my intention is satisfied.

I made several Structures by extruding the elements (I used a machine die to cut them from a sheet of Novodur, a type of hard PVC, and then adhered them to the same material). For use in architecture, I have ceramic tiles produced in the form of elements that will comprise the facing of the wall along the covered passageway by the Polish Information Centre on Jindřišská Street in Prague. In addition, the glass mosaic facing for the Letná Tunnel ventilation shafts is in production.

And to conclude from another angle: are your Structures just designs for implementation in architecture, or are they also independent works of art in their own right?

My Structures are independent works of art that can be integrated into architecture.

Published in Výtvarné umění, 1968, No. 3, pp. 110 – 119. 

Josef Hlaváček (1934 – 2008), aesthetician, art critic and theorist. Louny native and a friend of Sýkora's for many years; has written about ZS since the mid-Sixties. One of the founders of the Benedikt Rejt Gallery in Louny (1965). Only published in samizdat following the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Author of a fundamental text on Czech Constructivist art: 1960s Czech Constructivism and its Reverberations, samizdat, Prague 1989 (officially published in 1993). Later became a university professor. Rector of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design Prague, 1994 – 2000.