Czech Bait

The first U.S. exhibition of a Czech avant-garde innovator carries the weight of the modern world

Finally we have Teige as a theorist of architecture, committed to the socialist/constructivist vision that architecture should be driven by social concerns and provide the working class with a dignified living environment. The problem for Teige was how to implement this ideal. His view was functionalist, dictated by communist sociology and technique alone. While he rejected modern architecture (as exemplified by Le Corbusier and Gropius) as monumental and "bourgeois," his own functionalism in a sense imitated the "Western" industrialization's dehumanizing effects. To boot, Teige's rejection of marriage as a "bourgeois" institution reduced his own view of a dwelling to a minimal communal space, devoid of family cohesion. At the Wolfsonian-FIU you can walk into a full-scale model of one such functional Teige apartment.

Design for book cover: Husa na provásku
Karel Teige
Design for book cover: Husa na provásku

Details

April 1, 2001, 305-535-2645
Wolfsonian-FIU Museum, 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach

Karel Teige's final embrace of Surrealism reveals his political disillusionment. His collage series hung within a circular black wall (right before the show's exit) is poignant. It aptly expresses Teige's last days. These headless images, disjointed torsos, and breast arrangements fixed amid boundless landscapes conjoin past and present with an abstruse sense of apathy and cynicism. The female figure mixed with emblems of modernity such as the airplane, the locomotive, and the steamship, represents the fate of that lost utopia thrown in with the byproducts of a lost civilization.

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