Jan Kotěra and his students at the School of Applied Arts
Created: 31. 1. 2022 from Vysoká škola uměleckoprůmyslová v Praze

Jan Kotěra and his students at the School of Applied Arts

19. 1. – 5. 3. 2022 

Gallery UM, UMPRUM, nám. Jana Palacha 80, Praha 1 




Jan Kotěra, a leading representative of Czech modern architecture, has left his mark on the history of the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague. He ran a special school for decorative architecture at the then School of Applied Arts in Prague, and many of his more than 40 students are among the key figures in Czech architecture in the first half of the 20th century. How did Jan Kotěra teach? What assignments did the students draw? The exhibition Jan Kotěra and his students at the School of Applied Arts in Prague is trying to answer not only these questions.



Jan Kotěra taught at the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague from 1898 to 1910 and passed on his experience not only from his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna at the Otto Wagner School but also from his own practice over time. He thus became a major reinforcement of the "new spirit" and his arrival is unanimously evaluated in the history of the school as the start of a new developmental stage. He educated a new generation of young progressive architects, such as Josef Gočár, Otakar Novotný, Jaroslav Rössler, Adolf Foehr, Vilém Kvasnička, Jan Zázvorka, and Emanuel Pelant.


Kotěra's main merit was the promotion of a new style and the emphasis on rationalist constructive principles. At the same time, "he proclaimed that the most important thing in relation to students is to suppress the authoritarian opinion of the pedagogue and to uncover the students’ pure individuality, which makes it possible to find their own path to architectural work. The student thus does not repeat the learned patterns and motifs, but seeks a contemporary way of architectural expression through a detailed study of the history of architecture and its constructions,” explains curator Josef Holeček, on Kotěra's progressive approach.



The exhibition Jan Kotěra and his students at the School of Applied Arts attempts to make a critical probe into Kotěra's way of teaching and the actual results of schoolwork: it shows not only previously published works of students, but also some undiscovered archival drawings, that have been stored in the National Technical Museum until now. We can take these as one of the statements about the assignments that were imposed on the students. School works are supplemented by medallions of the architects themselves and examples of their later work.


The atmosphere of the studio is also drawn by the architectural design of the exhibition, which tries to recall the place where the students worked. A simple installation of student sketches and medallions of Kotěr's graduates refers to the notice boards they used to have around the perimeter of the room. The drawing tables were replaced by exhibitions with samples of period literature, which played an important role in the teaching and creation of students.


An accompanying program is being prepared for the exhibition. Dates of individual events will be published in advance.




Exhibition curator: Josef Holeček
Professional cooperation: Jindřich Vybíral
Graphic design: David Novák, Kateřina Pravdová
Photography: Anna Veronika Křížová




The exhibition was created in cooperation with the National Technical Museum


Photo: Viktorie Macánová