Saturday, August 1, 2009

About Art - Franz Kafka Memorial

In 2000, on impulse, the director of F.K. Company, Mrs. Marta Železná's, announced a competition. Eight of some of the most significant Czech sculptors were called on to create a memorial for perhaps one of the greatest 20th century Jewish writers in Czech literature, Franz Kafka. It was required that a figurative composition be designed along with other requirements.

One of the “other requirements” was that the sculpture sit at the corner of Dušní and Vězeňská streets, between Spanish Synagogue and Holy Spirit Church, in the first district of Prague. The place itself is very symbolic - not only that the Kafkas lived in 27, Dušní Street but also because there is a border of Staré město (Old Town) and Josefov (Jewish Town) - two districts of Prague - going under the sculpture. Further, the sculpture should represent the “spiritual zone” of three religions - among synagogue, catholic and protestant churches. In this contemplative and romantic part of old Prague Kafka spent practically all his short life.

The sculpture would be financed by Franz Kafka society mainly from the sources of TV Nova endowment fund and Magistrate of Prague. The whole project, that means competition, rewards, expenditure, casting, architectural project, construction work and royalty cost would be no more than four million crowns.

Jaroslav Róna, a 1957 graduate of Glass design Studio in Art and Crafts School in Prague, won the competition. His design was a sculpture made up of two bodies. When we look at it closer we find out that the lower part is only an empty men's suit (jacket and trousers). This suit bears a figure of Franz Kafka on its shoulders (as a small child). One hand is resting on his thigh while the other is bent in 90° angle and is pointing his index finger directly forward. According the sculptor's explanation, the work was inspired by Kafka's famous novelette Popis jednoho zápasu (Description of one match). This separated design was inspired by the spiritual separation that the author reveals in his texts.

Because significant part of a novelette takes part on the river Vltava bank, Róna takes the advantage of terrain shift near the area of location of the sculpture to place a copy of a bank railing and cyclopean wall to evoke the atmosphere of the text (with cooperation of architect's David Vávra studio). The sculptor's aim was to provoke the terrifying but also absurdly humorous poetics of Kafka's works. The 12-foot memorial is made of bronze, is 3,75 m high and weighs 800 kilos. It took two years and eight months to cast and place the whole project. It was unveiled in December 2003. Find out more about the artist at:

No comments:

Post a Comment