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Vendula Hnídková (ed.)

Chtivost architektury. Autobiografické zápisky Pavla Janáka

The autobiographical notes of Pavel Janák constitute a unique source of information, not just about the life of this individual, but also about Czech society in transformation at the turn of the 20th century. The notes, which were recorded spontaneously over the course of the years between 1943 and 1950, were evidently supposed to culminate in an autobiography. But unlike other theoretical and also unpublished writings that Janák engaged in over the given period, his memoirs remained incomplete. Architect Janák with a fresh directness here describes the hardships of his youth growing up, the rhythm of everyday life in his childhood, and the gradual process whereby he found his own path to architecture. That began in the stifling atmosphere of the Czech technical university, where, in the absence of relevant stimuli and teaching figures, students were compelled to create parallel inspirational platforms, such as the Fraternity of Architectural Students. After studying under Otto Wagner in Vienna and making a study trip to Italy, Janák completed his formative period working in the office of Jan Kotěra. In his notes, Janák goes to list his architectural projects, which, given the incoherent nature of the entire list, can be regarded as especially important, even for the considerable time gap since it was created. Later notes relate to events such as the negative reception of the International Exhibition of Decorative and Applied Arts in Paris 1925 and the preparations for the Exhibition of Modern Culture in Brno in 1928. The moment that stands out most from the entire collection of memories, however, is his description of 22 February 1948 (the communist coup in Czechoslovakia).

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