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    Biography

    Motto: "Art means to master something, so that form cannot stand apart from content, and vice versa."

    Jan Hána (1927—1994)

    Jan Hána, portrait at Polská

    A statue should respect all aspects of high-level workmanship without having plastic faults. It has to express contemporary means of expression and ideals through its original idea in order to be clearly interpreted…Work in sculpture is hard. Viewed from the outside, a sculptural creation (e.g. one employing stone as a medium) seems to be a difficult form of manual craftsmanship. Surely it is. However, like any other art form, sculpture bears a crucial and continuous everyday personal struggle with the search for the best sculptural form to express an appropriate idea. A good artist is obsessed with artistic work and remains fully devoted to it all his life. At the same time, he should be fully sensitive to daily life, living it with others, understanding their problems, encouraging their aims and expressing them through art works. This is a full hardship which can also bring about full satisfaction.

    Prof. Jan Hána was one of the last Czech sculptors educated in classical figural sculpture. He was born on 28th of October 1927 in a village Dobronice near a South Bohemian town Bechyně, where he worked at a local ceramics factory. After the war, he studied shortly at the State Ceramic School in Prague with Prof. V. Vokálek. Afterwards, he took up his sculpture studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague with Prof. Karel Pokorný (1945 – 51) and at the Academy in Zagreb in a formal Yugoslavia with Prof. A. Antunac (1947 – 48).

    Hána was devoted to sculptural work done in conjunction with architecture as well as to free lyrical sculpture, mainly demonstrated by depictions of the female body. This was the genre closest to him, in which he worked largely outside of contractual obligations, in a rather discreet manner and yet still representing the most prolific aspect of his work. Woman – as Muse – was a subject that reflected the author’s original idea based on the ancient nonet of the Muses of art. This theme, on which he was already working at the beginning of the 1960s, was actually recurrent through his entire career. The ensemble of Muses was done in two series (1961 – 63 and 1963 – 64). The first version of a statuette Euterpe, muse of lyric poetry, was sculpted in 1965 and placed on a Memorial plaque of Fráňa Šrámek, a Czech poet.

    Besides this whole retinue of the Nine Muses, there exist also single statues of female nudes in his lyrical work, freely executed in a range of three dimensional sizes and reliefs. The nudes are often depicted as standing, dancing or sitting: Cuddled (1960), Fountain (1958 – 60), Little Dancer (1960), Odetta (1961), Seated Dancer (1962), Torso (1962), Portrait of a Girl (1965), Dancer (1966 – 67), Ecstasy (1969), Swan Song (1969 – 70), Torso (1971), Clio (1971), Music (1979), Drama (1980) evoking a composition of Appassionata (1965), Prime of Life (1985), Music with Flute (Euterpe) (1986), Song (Erato) (1986), Torso (1992).

    In 1983 Hána was promoted to a professorship of a sculpture studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. A year after he was honored a national artist and appointed a vice-chancellor of the Academy in 1985. In 1984 he was awarded the Order of Francesco de Miranda from the President of Venezuela for creating a Monument of Simon Bolivar which was mounted in Prague – Dejvice.

    Ranked among his most remarkable public statues are Joy of Life for the Peace Park (Heiwa kōen) in Nagasaki (1975), A Song of My Country for the National Theatre in Prague (1981 – 83) or the Last Day of War near Prachatice (1986). They all reflect his parallel lyrical sculptural work of female nudes. They can be seen not only in private collections but also in cultural institutions and concourse in the Czech Republic like Tomb of the Actress Jana Rybářová in the Vyšehrad Cemetery in Prague (1957), Seated Girl (Jarmila) in Kampa Park in Prague (1958), Melancholy in the Darkov Spa (1959), Little Dancer in front of a former movie-theatre U Hradeb in Prague (1961), Seated Dancer in the Marianbad Spa (1966), Prime of Life (Spring) at a shopping centre Labe in Prague – Modřany (1985), etc.

    In the 1990s Jan Hána began to reinterpret the theme of the Nine Muses in a size of 80 cm. Unfortunately, this was not completed. Euterpe became the first Muse of this new series. The second was Polymnia and the final statue Calliope closed not only this series but also his whole body of sculpture work. He died in 20th of September 1994 in Prague soon before his 67th birthday.

    His works are deposited in the National Gallery in Prague, the City Gallery Prague, the Czech Museum of Fine Arts in Prague, the Aleš South-Bohemian Gallery in Hluboká nad Vltavou, and many private collections in homeland and abroad.

    Obal knihy Jan Hána - sochařské dílo

    Publications

    Jan Hána – Sculptural work, author’s edition, Prague, 1994

    Pohlazení něhou (Touched by Tenderness), Exhibition Catalogue, Galerie Art Praha, Prague 2007

    Factual file

    1927 – (October 28) born in Dobronice near Bechyně

    1945 – studies at the State Ceramic School in Prague (with prof. V. Vokálek)

    1945-51 – studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague with prof. Karel Pokorný

    1947-48 – a stay at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in formal Yugoslavia with prof. Antunac

    1951-1994 – works on state commissions and intimate sculpture

    1983 – promotion to a professorship of a sculpture studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague

    1984 – honored a national artist

    1985 – awarded the Order of Francesco de Miranda from the President of Venezuela

    1985 – appointed a vice-chancellor of the Academy

    1994 – died in Prague on September 20

    Epilogue

    "As a seventeen-year old, I had no idea of the impact of Jan Preisler on Czech art. However, I was touched by his impassioned nature and lyrical poetry, affection beyond words. Should I confess what raised my devotion to art, I have to first mention Preisler above all."

    Jarmila drawing


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