Václav Zykmund


Zykmund (Czech, 1914-1984) was a painter, graphic artist and photographer, as well as a writer and poet, translator, historian, theoretician, and art critic. From 1932 he studied drawing and painting in Prague at the Czech Technical University and part-time at the Faculty of Natural Science, Charles University. He was a member of the post-Surrealist Group Ra (c. 1946-1948), as well as other creative societies, and was a prominent functionary of the Union of Czechoslovak Fine Artists. He started photographing in his youth, and began to experiment with the medium in 1933. The important aspects of his photographic works are the surrealist stagings, which were created at events called „rampages“ in 1937 and 1944. Zykmund, with the active participation of the others, arranged objects and figures, and then photographed the arranged scenes (in one case Miloš Koreček was the photographer). From today’s point of view, Zykmund’s events are a precursor of happenings, performance art, and body art. Chris van Geel and the photographer Emile van Moerkerken organized events similar to Zykmund’s in Amsterdam in 1938; in France, Claude Cahun comes the closest to Zykmund. In 1948, contacts between the future members of the Cobra movement and Group Ra were forcibly interrupted.