Jiří Kolář

  • Born 1914 in Protivín, Austro-Hungarian Empire
  • Died 2002 in Prague, Czech Republic

A self-taught artist, Jiří Kolář began creating collages using text and images collected from magazines at age twenty. Collage expressed Kolář’s feelings of a divided Europe before and during World War II. After the war, it provided an outlet for Kolář’s critique of the Czech Republic’s Soviet-controlled Communist government. Kolář innovated new techniques within the medium, including confrontage, froissage, and rollage. Kolář is perhaps better known as a writer. Echoing the fractures of his collage, Kolář’s poetry explores themes of destruction. He published his first collection, Rodný list (Birth Certificate), in 1941. He was a member of Group 42 during World War II. In 1945, he moved to Prague to work as an editor. That same year he joined and withdrew from the Communist party. Kolář was imprisoned by the Communist government in the 1950s, and his writings were blacklisted in 1949 and during the 1960s. He first exhibited abroad in 1963, in London. Kolář won first prize at the 1969 Bienal de São Paulo, and had a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1975. After signing the protest document Charter 77, Kolář was banned from the Czech Republic. He moved to Paris in 1980, returning to Prague after the Velvet Revolution of 1989.