Cubist Lamp Post and Cubist Architecture
A Cubist lamp post, a Cubist Museum and the House of the Black Madonna are three remarkable examples of cubist architecture in Prague. Angular lines, sharp geometric contrasts, repeated rectangular motifs and prismatic broken surfaces characterize Cubist architecture. None of these features serves a practical purpose. They are mere decoration. These gems of Cubist architecture are ‘secret places’ right in the centre of Prague. Cubism flourished in Prague for a very short time from 1911 to 1914. The First World War stopped its development. After the war, when Czechoslovakia had become independent, architects developed Rondo Cubism, typical of Czech architecture.
Cubist Lamp Post
Tucked away behind Wenceslas Square, stands the only cubist street lamp in the world and is well worth seeing. This lamp post is geometrically shaped and consists of rectangular notches. A seat forms the basis: an excellent place to rest a after shopping at Wenceslas Square.
Angles and zigzag motifs are characteristics of the world’s only cubist lamppost made of reinforced concrete. Early twentieth century, Czech artists embraced new industrial design and architecture. Czech architect Emil Kralicek designed this striking piece of street furniture in 1913. You can find this lamp post right behind the functionalist Bata building on Wenceslas Square.
The cubist lamp post is a well-established art object. It is therefore not surprising that the glass and the metal lamp on the top have been replaced by a copy and the original is stored in the National Gallery of Prague.
Cubist Lamp Post and Jungmannovo Square
It is no coincidence that the cubist lamp post is located on Jungmannovo Square. Between 1912 and 1913, Emil Kralicek also designed the Adam pharmacy on Wenceslas Square 8 and at the same time, he was commissioned to redesign Jungmannovo Square. He built the garden wall and the gate surmounted by the relief of the Holy Virgin. He placed his lamp post here so that this dark corner would be lit.
His work received strong criticism: The light from the lamp post illuminated the U Pinkasu beer house and was a disguised advertisement and the lamp post itself resembled beer barrels. Today, the lamp post is a famous work of art.
The exhibition in the Cubist Museum includes: sofas, dressing tables, coat racks, desks, tables and chairs, dressers and also tea and dinner services, glassware and paintings. If you want to try whether a Cubist chair is comfortable, you can because there are two replicas. The exhibition includes works by Czech artists who used cubism in their works; Otto Gutfreund, Pavel Janak, Josef Gocar and Josef Chochol. The Museum of Czech Cubism in Prague is located on the second and third floor of the House of the Black Madonna. More about the Cubist Museum
House of the Black Madonna
Named after the statue of the Black Madonna that graces the façade, the house of the Black Madonna is one of the best examples of Cubist architecture in Prague. It was built between 1909-1911 as a department store. The construction was a novelty at the time; a reinforced concrete skeleton permitted a spacious interior. The Grand Café Orient occupies the complete first floor without supporting pillars, quite a sensation at the time. Its interior is impressive and the only surviving Cubist interior in the world.
During the communist era the building was subdivided and used as offices. Many of the original Cubist furnishing was lost. Some ten years ago the Café underwent extensive renovations. Old black-and-white photos showed what the interior once looked like. The café was refurbished in the old style with replicas of the furniture and the chandeliers that look like the real thing. On the ground floor is Modernista Design Shop for lovers of cubism, functionalism and art deco. Everything is made according to original techniques and from original materials.
Cubist Lamp Post and Cubist Museum Addresses
Cubist lamp post, Jungmannovo namesti, behind Wenceslas Square near Narodni Trida
House of the Black Madonna, Café Orient and Cubist Museum, Ovocny trh 19
Cubist Museum: Tuesday 10.00 – 19.00, Wednesday to Sunday 10.00 – 18.00, Monday closed
Café Orient: Monday – Friday 09.00 – 22.00, Saturday and Sunday 10.00 – 22.00
photos Marianne Crone