The artistic heritage of sculptor Otto Gutfreund represents one of the most significant contributions of Czech art to the world cultural heritage. He was one of the first artists to apply formal and ideological procedures in sculpture. He had become acquainted with Cubism in the studio of Émile Antoine Bourdelle at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris (1909–10). His style is a grand synthesis of home tradition (František Bílek, Jan Štursa), contemporary French art (from August Rodin, Émile Antoine Bourdelle up to Pablo Picasso), German Expressionism (sphere of the Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin), as well as of Czech and French Gothic sculpture. Since his encounter with Picasso’s Head of Fernanda (1909), which in the very year when it was made was brought from Paris to Prague by Vincenc Kramář, Gutfreund studied the relation between area and volume. These thoughts led him from his rather modest work At the Dressing (1911) to his chef-d’-oeuvre, the statue Anxiety. The theme of a figure crouching in anxiety resulting from what was lived as well as is still to be lived has been a very frequent subject in European art, from Decadence to Expressionism (Edvard Munch, Alfred Kubin, Josef Čapek, Franz Kafka). The statue Anxiety is a key work in Czech 20th-century art. Even in the European context it represents a major milestone on the road from Expressionism to Cubism.


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