In October 1989, Vaclav Havel was not yet the world-renowned philosopher-king; he was merely a playwright and a dissident, always in trouble with the communists who opressed the Czech people for four decades.
That month he was awarded in absentia a Peace Prize in Frankfurt, Germany. His acceptance speech was transformed by two artists into an outstanding example of graphic design. The text was designed by the distinguished Czech-American graphic artist George Sadek, with collaged illustrations by the Czech poet and artist Jiri Kolar, based on the text settings and illuminations of the 42-line Gutenberg Bible. Kolar's work reflects the central theme of Havel's speech: the power of words.
The result of this joint effort is a special work of art -- an oversized, case-bound volume, published in a limited edition in Czech and English. Fourteen large-scale pages of the portfolio will be on display at the Museum of European Art in Clarence, New York, composed of passages of Havel's address in seven different languages. He passionately argues the dangers of irresponsible and manipulative use of words by totalitarian regimes.
The exhibition A Word About Words was prepared by the Cooper Union of New York. It was on display in Prague in 1993, and earlier this year for three months at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibition includes an English translation of the text.
The exhibition will be opened by the Czech Ambassador in Washington Michael Zantovsky, who had participated in the underground ceremony in Prague in 1989, at which Havel was symbolically presented the prize by a close circle of his dissident friends. It was only several weeks before the Czech "velvet revolution" overthrew the Communist regime and Havel was elected president.
Concurrently there will be a showing of "Impressions of America", a series color photographs by the visiting Prague photographer and designer Jana Buriankova. The artist will also attend the opening of the exhibition in Clarence and present her work.
The exhibitions were brought to Clarence on the occasion of the appointment of B. John Zavrel as the first Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in New York. "The country is rapidly getting integrated into the free world, and has become an example of success and stability among the former east block countries. The Czech Consulate, located at 10545 Main Street in Clarence, New York, will provide reliable information to tourists, as well as develop and support cultural and business contacts between the two countires," said the new consul.
The exhibition took place from April 8 to May 31, 1995 at the Museum of European Art, 10545 Main Street, Clarence, N.Y. 14031 (USA).
We recommend these books:
The Garden Party and Other Plays, by Vaclav Havel
Largo Desolato, by Vaclav Havel
Primer for Those Who Would Govern, by Hermann Oberth
Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer
Arno Breker: The Divine Beauty in Art, by B. John Zavrel
Mantra and Meditation, by Dr. Usharbudh Arya