Josef Čapek


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(b Hronov, 23 Mar. 1887; d Bergen-Belsen, Apr. 1945).

Czech painter, graphic artist, stage designer, and writer. Like Filla and Gutfreund, he was one of the earliest artists outside France to work in a Cubist idiom, and with them he was one of the founders of the Group of Plastic Artists, which was established in Prague in 1911 with the object of combining Cubism and German Expressionism into a new national style. Later the Expressionist current in his work prevailed, revealing his deep concern with fundamental moral and social questions (Bad Conscience, 1926, Moravian Gal., Brno). His humanist outlook was shared by his more famous younger brother, the writer Karel Čapek, several of whose books he illustrated. Both of them fervently opposed the threat from Nazi Germany in the 1930s; Karel died the year before the outbreak of the Second World War, but Josef lived to see its full horrors and died in Belsen concentration camp. His work as a writer included poetry, a novel, and plays written in collaboration with Karel, most notably The Insect Play (1920), a comic fantasy satirizing greed and selfishness.

Subjects: Art.

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