Джозеф Свобода


A portrait of Джозеф Свобода in the Forties. Before enrolling in the Prague carpenter's school in 1938 and later at the Academy of Architecture, Svoboda worked for a couple of years in his father's carpentry workshop, where he developed an expertise and craftsmanship that would be of great help to him later on.«I will always be grateful to my father who forced me, before I became a set designer ...»
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«... to manual labour.I am convinced that the theater is, and remains, the last artisan work of our time and of the future one», said Джозеф Свобода.His activity as a set designer began in Prague in 1943, in the image the staging for the Na Poříčí Theater in Prague of ''Bloudění'', by the Czech playwright Jiří Kárnet, then not staged, in which it is immediately evident how he has already left behind ...
... the nineteenth-century scenographic pictorial tradition, influenced instead by Gordon Craig's and Adolphe Appia's theories, which will lead him to prefer the use of shapes, architectural volumes, movement and phototechnical effects.And to draw inspiration from the aesthetics of Russian Constructivism, in the image the Tatlin's Tower, which also seems to refer to the famous spiral made of HSE - Tempesta silk of .
Since 1946 he was production manager of the former German Theater in Prague, renamed 5th May Theater after the fall, in 1945, of the Nazi regime and today known as the Prague State Opera (in the photo its hall).When he was entrusted with the design of the first sets, Svoboda did not hesitate, in such a traditionalist environment, to use his sources of inspiration.After all, almost as a sign of fate, Svoboda ...
5th May Theater of Prague, ''The Tales of Hoffmann'', 1946 ... in the Bohemian language means Freedom, and in fact here there are batteries of lights and spotlights in sight, a suspended platform together with a sphere and the skeleton of a small prismatic structure, and another larger one on the ground which houses two singers and, in the background, a reproduction of Canaletto: an apparent chaos that has nothing to do with tradition.
|5th May Theater of Prague, ''Tosca'', 1947 Although initially more attracted by the experimental theatre, Svoboda had to devote himself to opera as well from the first stagings, however later appreciating its contents and artistic possibilities.But since these very first works Svoboda will leave traces that will not go unnoticed ...
... and which will influence subsequent generations of set designers, including some very great ones who, even after decades, will mention him and continue his path, here are some examples:Since 1950 Svoboda was technical-artistic director ...
... at the National Theatre of Prague (in the photo), of which he will later also be the main set designer.In 1958 he was entrusted with the task, together with director Alfréd Radok, and the team will also include a very young Milos Forman, to develop a cultural programme, in which the visual arts will play a primary role, to be presented at Expo 1958 in Brussels.The seat location ...
«I am an architect and a scenographer, and the intense perception of my time is and has always been the base of my job.
And as in the beginning, it seems to me now again that the world and the humanity are in front of an alternative: or the salvation or the downfall.

Words that go up to 1992 but that seem to be written today, those that Josef Svoboda (Čáslav, Boemia, 1920 - Praga 2002) brings in the premise of a text become fundamental for the understanding of the runs of the scenography in the second half of the Nineteenth Century, I segreti dello spazio teatrale / The Secrets of Theatrical Space, (Ubulibri, 1997), from which all the quotations reported between the captions of the photographs are also taken.
In the plentiful bibliography that concerns him, the synthetic definitions of his personality are not missing.
Here is that by Франко Куадри, theater critic and founder of Ubulibri: «... an artist that has his best characteristic in the conjugation of the absolute with the daily life and pursues the maximum scientificity beginning from a handicraft search.»
A definition that Svoboda, when he red it in the preface of The Secrets of Theatrical Space, probably didn't disapproved.

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Театр Piccolo, ''Фауст, фрагменты''


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