A new memorial to the world famous graphic designer and artist Ladislav Sutnar has just been unveiled in his birthplace Pilsen. The enlarged set of bright building blocks for kids, designed by Sutnar in the 1920’s, is located in front of Pilsen’s Faculty of Design and Art and is part of a long-term project aimed at reviving Sutnar’s memory in his homeland.
The eye-catching outdoor installation, consisting of large orange and blue blocks and a chimney serve not only as a tribute to Ladislav Sutnar’s genius, but also as a seating and resting place for passers-by. The popular set of building blocks entitled “Build a Town” was manufactured in 1920s Czechoslovakia.
As Iva Knobloch of the Museum of Applied Arts in Prague explains, the toy was inspired by Le Corbisier’s revolutionary concept of solving the building crisis and poor living conditions by building prefabricated housing.
“The construction set answers Le Corbusier’s call that it is necessary to teach people to live in prefab houses. So the set is not so important for the purity of its geometrical proportions and vital colours, but mainly for its concept of living in non-ornamental and non-decorative houses which can be fabricated industrially.”
Ladislav Sutnar was one of the most important graphic designers in the Czechoslovak avant-garde movement. He was a master of exhibition design, typography, poster and book design, instantly recognisable for his use of simple shapes and vivid colours. But according to Iva Knobloch, his main contribution lies in anticipating the information age:
“First of all, Sutnar is called an apostle of the information age. I think this is his main contribution to world of design and visual arts context. He was the founder of the discipline of information design, which was new in the 1940s and 1950s, and he anticipated the information age. He wrote about it already in the 1940s. He was really not only a thinker but also a strategist of information organisation and visualisation.”
While Sutnar’s toys, porcelain and glass sets were produced massively in Czechoslovakia, his American work was only presented to the Czech public at a retrospective exhibition in 2003, because the Communist regime tried to erase his name from the country’s cultural history:
“Officially the name of Ladislav Sutnar had to be forgotten because he collaborated with Czech exiles, he was a graphic designer for the magazine Svěděcetví and he was in close contact with Pavel Tigrid, so this was the reason why he was persona non grata in Communist Czechoslovakia, but his work was never forgotten.”
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