Scattered among Prague's Baroque palaces and fin-de-siècle apartment houses are a dozen oddly angular buildings, the remnants of a few years in the 1910's that briefly drew Prague into the center of the Cubist movement. Czech Cubism—which largely embraced the look of French Cubism while eschewing Picasso and Braque's high-minded conceptualism—failed to capture the popular imagination. By the time the Czechs gained independence from Austria-Hungary, in 1918, it had morphed into blocky Czech Functionalism. In an effort to illuminate this little-known period, last fall the Czech National Gallery opened the Museum of Czech Cubism in Josef Gocar's 1912 House of the Black Madonna, one of the city's first Cubist buildings. In addition to some extraordinary artwork, including Otto Guttfreund's 1913 Anxiety, a bronze figurine of a woman that recalls Edvard Munch's The Scream, the museum is stocked with Cubist curiosities: hard-edged sofas, tea sets, and painter Vojtech Preissig's designs for a Cubist typeface. Kubista, a gift shop on the ground floor, sells reproductions of Cubist furnishings, so you can take a piece of history with you. 19 Ovocny Trh; 420/224-301-003.
—Peter S. Green
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