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Pavel Janák (1882–1956)

photo: krematorium Pardubice (wikipedia.org, autor Zdneněk Pražák)

Pavel Janák, a modernist, designer and theoretician, was one of the most significant Czech architects of the first half of the 20th century whose work shaped the architectonic image of Prague.

He was born on 12 March 1882 in the Prague Karlín quarter. After secondary school, he studied at the Czech Technical University in Prague and was taught by among others Josef Schulz. He also attended lectures by Josef Zítek at the German Technical University and from 1906 to 1907 he studied in Vienna at the school headed by Otto Wagner. His extraordinary talent surfaced while still a student as in his third year he won an award in a competition for crematorium designs and 1st place in a competition for school designs in Karlín. During his studies, he travelled throughout Europe and spent some time on a scholarship in Italy.

After returning home, he began working at the atelier of Jan Kotěra, where he stayed for about two years. Close to his thirties, he was appointed as the contractual architect of the bridge department of the construction bureau of the city of Prague. One of the most beautiful modern bridges crossing the Vltava, the Hlávka Bridge, comes from this era. Janák’s name is signed under many other significant designs, such as the Annexe of Czernin Palace, reconstruction of the Old Town Hall, annexe and the Palace Adria façade, the Church of Jan Hus Congregation at Vinohrady and the crematorium in Pardubice.

Janák was also a co-founder of the Artěl association, one of the most important institutions of Czech applied art and design of the first half of the 20th century. He was a significant representative of Czech cubism. In 1912, he founded, with several other artists, the Prague Art Studios, where he designed his famous cubistic porcelain. He is also the author of several furniture series, mostly for private clients.

He was a professor and a rector of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague for several years. In 1936, he succeeded Josip Plečnik as the head architect of Prague Castle. He and his predecessor have significantly influenced the appearance of Prague Castle and many other projects throughout Prague.

The year 2012 has been proclaimed as the year of Pavel Janák and Josip Plečnik as it falls on the 130th and 140th anniversary of the birthdays of both of these artists. Their contribution to architecture will be commemorated by a wide range of exhibitions, lectures and various accompanying events.
Author: Petra Hubálková
Added: 01.05.2012

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