Václav Bláha – Books are Difficult to Exhibit

Graphic artist Václav Bláha (1922) attended Prof. Jaroslava Šváb’s private school (Officina pragensis) immediately after the war, and from 1951-1965 attended the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, studying in Prof. Karel Svolinský’s studio. 

His main area of focus involves books, where he has successfully merged and re-evaluated the influence of both teachers – typographical discipline alternates with playfulness, with a relationship to colour. Bláha’s books are characterizied by simplicity of design, harmony between text, typography, and artistic elements, and the use of custom fonts. He often combines names and labels written in freehand with fragile little sketches or coloured areas and shapes. For each task, he seeks a separate solution. Over a half-century he has worked on and decorated over a thousand books, and designed several editions. He considers his best book to be Paul Valéry’s Pan Teste [Monsieur Teste] (Odeon, 1971), which back then he doubted “whether it could even be illustrated”. The exhibition will also include examples of other important work – illustrations, book cover designs, proofs and final versions, and drawings. Several books will also be available for hands-on perusal. Attentive visitors will soon realize that they know Václav Bláha’s books without realizing it. They have become part of our cultural memory.

The exhibition has been prepared by the Art Archive in cooperation with the Elpida society for seniors within the Old´s school festival.