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Czech Expressionist Woodcut Illustrations

Hrad smrti. (Barevnými dřevoryty vyzdobil Josef Váchal). [The city of death. With color woodcuts by Josef Váchal].

Král. Vinohrady (Prague): self-published, 1912. Quarto (25 × 18 cm). Original woodcut-printed wrappers; 51 pp. With a front wrapper design, decorations, and eleven original color woodcuts by Váchal (frontispiece, title, nine plates with tissue guards, and the original woodcut illustration to front wrapper). Very good or better.

First edition of this expressionistic “found” prose poem by Jakub Deml (1878–1961), one of the most bizarre and enigmatic figures in Czech interwar literature. A Catholic priest from rural Moravia, Deml constantly seemed to rebel against the church, maintained suspiciously close ties to his female muses, and was involved in various public scandals, all while creating an enormous body of written work, often published in small bibliophile editions. He is seen as an important representative of Czech modernist literature and writers such as Vitězslav Nezval considered his highly associative texts to be related to their own surrealist experiments. Deml also maintained close ties to contemporary artists, such as František Bílek. His friendship with the painter and printmaker Váchal – an equally complex and contrarian figure – was short and intense, but resulted in this early collaboration. Váchal’s ominous black and yellow woodcuts complement and complete Deml’s brooding, difficult dream-inspired prose poem about life after death. One of 500 copies printed. Sáňka 183. As of November 2019, KVK and OCLC show four copies in North America.

Book ID: 50286

Price: $3,500.00