The Czech Center New York is delighted to introduce a multi-media exhibition project, which aims to present Adolf Loos’ unique interior design work as a result of the architect’s long-term activity in Pilsen, Czech Republic, which is not very well known to the international audience. The project was initiated in 2020, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Adolf Loos (1870–1933), a world-renowned epitome of modern interwar architecture of Moravian descent, whose ideas and implementations influenced contemporary architecture and inspired later events and trends in contemporary architecture on an international scale.
Our gallery will be open for visitors to see the exhibition with a limited capacity on WEDNESDAYS 1pm-4pm and by APPOINTMENT ONLY.
The main goal of the exhibition is to set Loos’ work in Pilsen in wider context: the circumstances of the origin of the first designs after 1907 and the crucial role of the extended Hirsch and Beck families and their connection to Vienna will be described; attention will also be paid to the architect’s return to Pilsen in 1927 and work for the Brummel and Semler families, as well as for the Vogls, Krauses and numerous other investors. The exhibition will also include an account of the respective families’ and flats’ fates from 1939 to the current reconstructions and opening up of several of the flats and established cooperation with several of the families now living in Australia, Great Britain and the USA.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Pilsen was a dynamic industrial city in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which also meant the presence of significant financial capital and the desire of its holders for modern life, also demonstrated by quality housing. A number of local successful companies belonged to the families of Jewish entrepreneurs – the educated and cultivated class with kinship and business contacts outside the Czech lands.
It was in Vienna that Loos met his first Pilsen clients, who paved the way for his further contracts in this city. Their openness to cooperation with an innovative and unorthodox architect and, at the same time, abundant financial means gave rise to the renowned series of apartments and interiors, later revitalized and reconstructed. These are a perfect example of the architect’s way of thinking about the Modernist conception of lifestyle, hidden mainly in burgher’s houses of eclectic, classicizing styles. At the same time, thanks to the character, walks of life and fates of their owners, they are a disturbing statement about the socio-cultural history of Pilsen and Central European countries. They touch on topics related to the Holocaust, exile, the communist totalitarian regime and the post-revolutionary period of the free Czech Republic following the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
Adolf Loos was significantly influenced by his visit to the United States. During his three-year stay (1893–1896), Loos earned his living by manual labor. He studied the style of Louis Sullivan, a significant representative of the Chicago school. The unsuccessful proposal of the Chicago Tribune building remains his most important work related to the American continent. His design, reminiscent of a Doric column, inspired the Postmodernists by the usage of metaphors and historical motives. After returning from the U.S., Loos used some elements of American houses in his work, such as a lounge area with a fireplace and beamed ceiling.
MIROSLAV KONVALINA, DIRECTOR OF CZECH CENTER NEW YORK: "The Czech city of Pilsen will have its second debut in New York in quite a short time. This time it will present the stories of important Pilsen' families in connection with a unique architecture, which was inspired by the Anglo-American style of living and transferred the concept of luxury living spaces from Vienna, through Prague to Pilsen. The exhibition at the Bohemian National Hall, a follow-up concert and an online conference are also an invitation to visit this West Bohemian city."
The current project is being developed in cooperation with the Gallery of West Bohemia (represented by its curator of architecture collections Petr Domanický), and the Corporate City of Pilsen, whose history is inseparably connected with the name of Adolf Loos.
Partners of the project in New York: CzechTourism, Austrian Cultural Forum New York
Greetings from Mr. Martin Baxa, Mayor of the city Pilsen