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Viktorie Vítů

Vilém Santholzer: Scientist and Avant-gardist between the Beauty of the Machine and Radiation

Vilém Santholzer was a Czech radiologist who in the second half of the 1920s published around thirty articles and several of his own photographs of radiation on the pages of avant-garde journals. The article explores his activities and situates them in the context of the interest of the European avant-garde in the machine aesthetic on the one hand and scientific photography on the other. It shows that for Santholzer beauty was always the direct result of other properties of an object associated with truth; in his view, machines were something beautiful if they were functional, and photographs were beautiful if they were authentic. While we can connect his thought on the machine aesthetic with the ideas of Russian constructivism, Le Corbusier, Karel Teige or Werner Graeff, in the case of his photographs we can find parallels among authors interested in the power of photography to make the invisible visible, i.e. above in the work of László Moholy-Nagy and once again Karel Teige. What then remains a peculiar feature of Santholzer’s thought is his belief in the beauty of pure, unapplied mathematics, which he set out in his polemics with Karel Honzík on the pages of Pásmo.

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