Czech Cubism is a unique phenomenon. In the other countries, Cubism was mostly expressed in paintings and sculptures, but in the former Czechoslovakia this style evolved like nowhere else: architecture, design, even furniture and other objects were made in this style by modern Czech artists. That´s why the Museum of Czech Cubism is worth visiting. It is situated in the Cubist House “At the Black Madonna” in Celetna Street in Prague Old Town.
The first Cubist house in Europe
House “At the Black Madonna” is the first Cubist house built in Europe. Architect Josef Gocar built it for tradesman F. J. Herbst in 1912. There used to stand an old Baroque house with the same name originally, but it was demolished. That was criticized by conservationist: they were afraid that the new house won´t fit into the surroundings with historical houses.
In spite of that, the new Cubist house surprised everyone. It has a massive Cubist portal, facade, windows, and even the staircase and its handrail are in Cubist style. It is sensitively embodied into the historical area. The Baroque symbol of Black Madonna, that gave the house its name, is still placed there, behind a golden grille.
Cubist café in the House at the Black Madonna
The interior of the house is Cubist as well, including the furniture and various details. A renowned cafe called Grand Cafe Orient was situated in the first floor. It was mostly visited by artists. There were stores and offices above. The cafe and the stores disappeared after several years and they were replaced by banking institutions.
Museum of Czech Cubism
Czech Museum of Visual Arts placed a permanent exhibition of Czech Cubism there in 1994. The National Gallery in Prague gained the building in 2003 and made it the Museum of Czech Cubism.
It covers the period between 1910 and 1919. It introduces Cubism as a way of life: there are examples from various artistic fields, such as architecture, paintings, sculptures, commercial art and others. The reconstructed Cubist cafe Grand Cafe Orient is open again. It was built according to the old photographs and sketches, which is all that is left from the original one.