Anna Zemánková (1908-1986)

untitled by Zemonkova, 1960'sSince the Middle Ages the Czech Lands have been a center of the occult. From the southern most regions of Moravia to the northern peaks of the Giant Mountains, the paranormal has permeated the three major cultures-Czech, Jewish and German-at all levels of society. Emperor Rudolf II 's Hapsburg court was rife with magicians, alchemists and astrologers. Fascinated with the dark side of life, Bohemian Prague was home to both Dr. Faust, who rode the winged Mephistopheles into the underworld, and the Golem, the monster who roamed the streets of the ghetto in a terrible rage.

Anna Vesela was born near Olomouc in Moravia into a family of tradesmen. In a region still believed to be home to wood fairies, folklore and traditional culture were very strong. Instructed in extensive needlework techniques, historic costume, music and dance, as well as a rigorous academic program, she earned a degree in dentistry. In 1948, the year the Communists took control, the newly married Anna Zemánková moved to Prague, where her life was one of wife, mother, and home. Around 1960 she mysteriously began to make large surreal drawings.

zemonkovaDriven by an "uncontrollable force" Zemánková created ethereal, biomorphic renderings that, like a spider's web, draw us in with their delicate beauty, then unexpectedly frighten us. Much of the artwork on view here is, in its fluidity, strikingly related to the automatic drawings made by mediums in the Spiritualist Community of Nová Paka, yet they paradoxically demonstrate deliberate effort. Dexterous, Zemánková not only drew, but also manipulated the paper by crimping it, and embellishing it with embroidery, crochet, and appliqué. Beyond works on paper, she made hats, purses, and home furnishings such as pillows and lampshades and her masterwork, a room divider.

Click Images to Enlarge

mixed media on manipulated paper
Collection of the International Folk Art Foundation

Untitled, 1960's
Oil pastel on paper
Museum of International Folk Art
A unit of Museum of New Mexico
Gift of Thomas Isenberg

Carlo | Zemánková | Tung | Ramírez |Gedewon |

Exhibitions | Publications | Calendar