The sub-collection of 20th Century Books which forms a special section in the collection of the library of the Olomouc Museum of Art was established in 1994. It consists of books, magazines and anthologies, the layout of which prominent artists of the 20th century participated. The collection comprises 1,117 volumes. The heart of the collection consists of book covers and their layouts from the period between the two world wars, at which time the main streams of Czech book art were functionalist book layouts and constructivist typography under the strong influence of the new concept of books in post-war Russia (Karel Teige, Vít Obrtel), expressionist work of Josef Čapek and artists creating in the spirit of poetism and surrealism (Jindřich Štyrský, Toyen). During the inter-war period, the use of photography and photomontage on book covers was on the increase (Zdeněk Rossmann, Ladislav Sutnar, Jindřich Štyrský, Toyen). The period covered by the collection was gradually extended back to the past; a part of the collection is book layouts by artists working at the beginning of the 20th century in the styles of Art Noveau, Symbolism, Decadence and later Expressionism (Vojtěch Preissig, Josef Váchal, Jan Konůpek, František Kobliha, František Bílek). At the exhibition Kniha v českém kubismu / Czech Cubism and the Book (Olomouc Museum of Art, 2005) works by the most prominent book artists were represented (František Kysela, Vratislav Hugo Brunner, Jaroslav Benda, Method Kaláb). On the contrary, the more recent period is represented by works from the end of the 1950s and 1960s when the book cover was a substitutional platform for the artists and often the only means of getting on to the public. Great artistic covers are found in whole series such as Světová literatura/World Literature or Otázky a názory/Questions and Opinions. This phenomenon is represented in the collections by Jiří Balcar, Václav Bláha, Libor Fára, Vladimír Fuka, Milan, Grygar, Jiří Rathouský, Zbyněk Sekal, Zdenek Seydl nebo Jaromír Valoušek. Czech book culture is selectively complemented in the collection by a number of exhibits of foreign production, mainly Russian avant-gardists (El Lissidsky, Alexander Rodchenko etc.).
In 2009 an exhibition was held in the Olomouc Museum of Art called Listování/Leafing Through where the book collections of the Olomouc Museum of Art were presented to the public for the first time to such a great extent: The 20th Century Book, Babler Library and Artist Book. The catalogue of this exhibition was awarded 1st prize in the competition of Nejkrásnější české knihy roku 2009 / Most Beautiful Czech Books of 2009 held by the Museum of Czech Literature (Památník národního písemnictví) in Prague.
Mgr. Hana Bartošová
kurátorka a správce podsbírky Kniha 20. století
tel.: 585 514 205