0011 Rondocubism versus National Style

  • Vendula Hnídková (Author)
    Prague Institute of Art History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague

    Since 2005, art historian Vendula Hnídková has been working as a researcher at the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. In 2018-2020 she is the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow at The Barber Institute of Fine Art at the University of Birmingham, UK. Currently, she is researching the Garden Cities Movement in her ERC project “Idea, Ideal, Idyll: Garden Cities in Central Europe 1890s-1930s”. In 2013, she curated the exhibition “National Style. Arts and Politics” at the National Gallery in Prague. She is the author of the books Moskva 1937. Architektura a propaganda v západní perspektivě [Moscow 1937: Architecture and Propaganda from the Western Perspective] (2018), National Style: Arts and Politics (2013), and Pavel Janák. Obrys doby [Pavel Janák: Outline of the Period] (2019).

Identifiers (Article)


There is a range of various terms used to refer to architectural production from the period after the First World War, among the most common being 'Rondocubism' and the 'National Style'. The terminological ambiguity clearly points to the problem with the very character of the style of expression that lies behind these diverse labels. In the 1920s, figures of the interwar avant-garde were already sharply critical of the post-war decorative style, the leading figures of which were the architects Pavel Janák and Josef Gočár. While this negative stigma was later overcome, following several thematic studies, it is still possible to look for other inspiring sources outside aesthetic categories that were directed at clarifying this theme. Extensive social projects had architects employed in all sorts of artistic activities, and therefore a possible answer to what the essence of the style was is offered by the wider political and cultural context. After the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic, the former protagonists of architectural Cubism and their colleagues from the Czechoslovak Workshop Association, Artěl and the School of Decorative Arts attained such social standing that they could effectively influence local artistic development. Through the individual conception applied to official commissions they created a visual identity of the new state system. As is apparent from their theoretical writings, they found their sources of information for ornamental decoration of buildings and craft artefacts by bonding with local tradition. This did not of course mean directly borrowing from folk-art prototypes. Advanced forms of national art were intended to help establish Czechoslovakia in the international scene and were also a conscious attempt through a more folkish form of expression to appeal to the wider strata of the population.


20th century architecture, rondocubism, national style, Czechoslovakia, Czech art, 20th century design, Tschechoslowakei, Architektur, Design, 1920-1940