Art theorist and critic, graphic designer, artist, author and translator Karel Teige (1900–51) is today recognized not just as the creator of internationally acclaimed surrealist collages, but also as a leading figure of the European avant-garde. Teige spent his entire life commenting on and interpreting developments in the visual arts. His multifaceted theoretical writings helped shape the conceptual foundations of modern art, and his activities and intensive contacts with other members of the European avant-garde helped secure Czech art's place on the international art scene. His work anticipated, initiated and helped to develop the progressive artistic movements that fundamentally influenced art in the 20th century.
Karel Teige was one of the great European intellectuals of his time; his efforts were aimed at creating not just a system of aesthetics but also an all-encompassing life philosophy. He was intensively interested in architecture and found inspiration in Germany's Bauhaus (where he spent a year lecturing); architectural functionalism would have looked completely different without his input. Teige's preference for rational, minimalist designs with an emphasis on the social uses of modern architecture was the "most functionalist functionalism" of his time.
Teige's own work consisted primarily of a series of phenomenal collages that reveal the hidden and passionate aspects of his personality. His book designs set the tone for an entire generation, and his design principles remain valid today. Teige's complicated personality, full of contradictions, utopian dreams and a yearning for order and logic make him an indecipherable and deeply human individual, a perfect symbol for the 20th century.
This comprehensive, nearly 800-page monograph, by the art historian Rea Michalová, takes a wide-ranging look at the evolution of Teige's ideological, theoretical and political views, and recalls important moments in his life and their significance within the international context. The book includes a rich set of illustrations, photographs from his life, and examples of his unique collages and graphic designs.