THE ARTĚL COOPERATIVE (1908-1934): CRAFTING CZECH MODERNITY
Mansbach, Steven A
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Eight founding members of Artěl—the Prague avant-garde’s response to the Wiener Werkstätte—united in 1908 with a manifesto proclaiming their goals to combat inferior factory substitutes for handcrafted designs and to restore society with a sense of taste through affordable products for everyday life. Across Artěl’s stylistic, political, and ideological development, its members consistently demonstrated the complementary relationship between the folk and the modern. Whether working in the Czech variant of Cubism in the final years of the Habsburg Dual Monarchy, the folk-infused nationalist “decorativism” of the First Czechoslovak Republic after 1918, or the sober Functionalism of the late 1920s, Artěl designers struck an aesthetic balance between regional Czech folk arts and international avant-garde styles. The group thereby served to construct and promote a distinctively Czech visual culture for the international stage at a transformative moment in Czech history.