Vincent Hložník was involved in book illustration during his studies and over the course of the years, under the influence of his close contacts with surrealist poets, his relationship to literature became a typical feature and left an indelible mark on his personality and the entire body of his work. His illustrations are unmistakable due to their style; expressive and firm drawing, occasionally nervous and interrupted, became the base and was frequently enriched by dynamic hatching. His first noteworthy illustrations of Slovak and foreign poetry feature unusual compositions, bringing elements of fantasy and poetic metaphor, allusion and an alternation of poetics, drama, tragedy and irony. His illustrations possess a unique power of expression and a convincing reflection of the atmosphere and essence of a story.
Hložník relies on impressive line drawing, graphic techniques and linocut, lithography and drypoint, whose black-and-white magic is emphasized by color accents. In the 1950s and 1960s, while also working on large graphic cycles, he created his best artwork for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Goethe’s Faust and Homer’s Odyssey, which stood up to the strictest criteria.
With the same passion which he devoted to illustrations for adults, he also created demanding visual artistic interpretations of books for children and youth. He was aware of the fact that through illustration he could form their artistic sensitivity and their relationship to literature and the cultural heritage of several generations of readers. His pen and ink aquarelle drawings for Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1955), Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales (1956) and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1959) are among the most outstanding in this respect. With their large format, dynamic composition and radiantly colorful narrative scenes with many figures in the background, they surprise by their tantalizing poetics and unexpected views from above and below, perspective abbreviations, unconventional cutouts, deformations and shape exaggerations, as well as city hideaways in which we can recognize the architectural accents of old Bratislava. His perfection in the detail and pleating of costumes is equally impressive and even manneristic in certain places, which also pertains to the figures’ exalted facial expressions and gestures of emphasized arms and hands. His dynamic drawing which multiplies the expressiveness and the range of colors, which intensifies the drama, open the door to a world of fantasy for readers and transform the pages of a book full of words into a kingdom full of fascinating experiences and feelings.
Vincent Hložník was born on October 22, 1919 in Svederník. From 1937 to 1942 he studied at the Department of Monumental and Decorative Painting of the School of Applied Arts in Prague under professors František Kysela and Josef Novák. In 1952 he began to work at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, and as a professor and head of the department of free printmaking and book illustration, he laid the foundations of the Slovak graphic school” and trained dozens of graphic artists and illustrators. From 1955 to 1959 he was vice rector and from 1959 to 1963 the rector of the Academy. In 1972 he was forced to leave the school but he continued to work as a freelance artist. He died on December 14, 1997 in Bratislava.
He is one of the key figures of Slovak painting and printmaking of the second half of the 20th century, but his contribution to illustration, in which he introduced fresh invention, distinctive elements of expression and imagination and visionary and surrealistic principles, is also immensely significant. He illustrated over 350 books and won numerous prizes and awards. In 1958 he won the David Bright Foundation Award at the 29th Biennale in Venice; in 1959 and 1965 he won the Silver Medal at the IBA International Book Art Exhibition in Leipzig, and in 1961 and 1967 the Fraňo Kráľ Award. He was instrumental in founding BIB Bratislava (Biennial of Illustration), for which he was presented with the BIB’s Honorary Plaque.
Venue: Danubiana, Čunovo, Slovakia
Date: from 21.06.2022 – 04.09.2022
Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00
Adults – 10 €
Family (2 adults and 2 students) – 20 €
Pensioners (over 62 years old) – 5 €
Students – 5 €
Children (under 6 years old) – Free
Danubiana Club Members – Free
Disabled persons, persons over 75 years of age – Free
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Danubiana, Čunovo, SlovenskoPrice
10 € EUR