Modern Modernism

Meet Adolf Hoffmeister (1902–1973), a cartoonist, painter, graphic designer, poet, novelist and former editor of the Czech daily newspaper Lidové noviny and the literary paper Literární noviny. (An artist as editor? Hmmmmm.)

Hoffmeister founded an anti-fascist magazine, Simplicus, in the 1930s after the German satiric magazine Simplicissimus was banned by the Nazis. (I met Andy Warhol one day when we were both looking at Simplicus at an antique store.) If that was not enough, he wrote the libretto for a children’s opera, Brundibar (later done by Maurice Sendak), with music by the Czech composer Hans Krása; the opera was performed by children in the Terezín concentration camp where Krása was imprisoned by the Nazis.

Hoffmeister emigrated to France in 1939, but moved on to Morocco when France was occupied. There, he was arrested but escaped from an internment camp and arrived in New York via Lisbon and Havana in 1941. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 and worked for UNESCO. After the Communist coup in February 1948, Hoffmeister was named French ambassador by the new neo-Stalinist regime but was recalled. He worked then as a lecturer in fine art at the Academy of Applied Arts. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Hoffmeister emigrated to France once again in 1969, but decided to return in 1970. He died three years later, branded by the regime as a non-person. This is a book of his work that shows his remarkable talent as typographer, caricaturist and visual commentator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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