The 1900′s must have been an exciting time as artists such as Braque and Picasso broke down the old conventions of art, developing Cubism as a new way of breaking up and reassembling townscapes, landscapes and portraits and changing the world of art forever. Its impact in the world of architecture and decorative arts was perhaps most noticeable in Czechoslovakia where Czech Cubism developed around 1910, only to be put on hold by the First World War, after which it changed form with more rounded shapes, and acting as a precurser to Art Deco and to Modernist architecture. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to see where Cubism stops and Art Deco starts.
Shoppers in Prague pass by one of the most important Czech Cubist buildings with hardly a look, but in its day it must have been radical. Built by Joseph Gocar in 1912, it makes use of the new technologies that had been developed in the late 19th century, but instead of neoclassical, gothic revival or art nouveau forms, we have architectural elements where geometric shapes create a dynamic, yet restrained, articulated façade. Quite a contrast to the art nouveau extravaganza of the Municipal House, designed by Osvald Polivka and Antonin Balsanek, only a short walk away.
Today this historic building that also retains the statue of the Black Madonna from a previous building on the site which gives the building its name, houses a Cubist Shop, a Museum of Cubism and what is probably the world’s only Cubist Cafe,
It is amazing to think that these designs are now over 100 years old, they still appear so fresh and dynamic.