curriculum vitae


Zdeněk Sýkora

biographical notes with exhibitions (choice)

1920 born 3 February in Louny, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)

1945–1947 studies art education and descriptive geometry at Charles University, Prague

1947 appointed lecturer in the Art Education Department, Faculty of Education, Charles University, Prague

zivotopis/1950_leta_R16_02.jpg1944–1958 first period of painting, initially Surrealist and Cubist, subsequently open-air landscapes

1952 first solo exhibition at Alšova síň, Prague – mostly landscapes from the area around Louny

1958 experiments in new forms of painting at home in his garden

1959 his encounter with the Matisse Collection at the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad leads to a decisive shift in his art – he paints the cycle Gardens whose pictures involve reduction of shape and colour

1960 geometrical shapes become the basis for his abstract paintings

1962–1963 his first pictures entitled “Structures” are created from elements placed in a grid

1963 the Křižovatka (Crossroads) group, involving artists of various orientations, is created by associates of Jiří Kolář who used to gather at Kolář´s table at the Slavia Cafe in Prague (Vladimir Burda, Richard Fremund, Jiří Kolář, Běla Kolářova, Karel Malich, Pavla Mautnerová, Vladislav Mirvald, Zdeněk Sykora)

1964 the first computer-assisted structures – intended to exhaust all possible combinations of relative positions of a number of given elements according to the rules that have been selected, without any Op art connotations – are created after several years of collaboration with the mathematician Jaroslav Blažek • the Křižovatka group exhibits at the Václav Špála Gallery, Prague; catalogue text: Jiři Padrta

1965 participates in exhibitions abroad, including Nuove realta nell’arte de Cecoslovacchia

contemporanea (New Realities of Czechoslovak Contemporary Art), La Carabaga club d’arte, Genoa; Tschechoslowakische Kunst heute (Czechoslovak Art Today), Stadtische Kunstgalerie, Bochum, and Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden; Nova Tendencija 3 (New Tendency 3), Galerija suvremene umjetnosti, Zagreb • habilitation in the field of painting – thesis presentation on the topic “Several Questions Concerning the Relationship of Colour and Space in Contemporary Art”

1966 appointed associate professor at the Art Education Department, Faculty of Education, Charles University; he taught here and at the Faculty of Philosophy & Arts until 1980 • first exhibition entitled Konstruktivní tendence (Constructivist Tendencies – exhibitors: Hugo Demartini, Jiří Kolář, Karel Malich and Zdeněk Sýkora), Benedikt Rejt Gallery, Louny; exhibition theme: Jiří Padrta 

1967–1969 major architectural projects (structures) in Prague: the ceramic wall at the Polish Information Centre on Jindřišská Street and glass tiles of Letná Tunnel ventilation flues; architect Josef Kales

1967 exhibition Konstruktive Tendenzen aus der Tschechoslowakei (Constructivist Tendencies from Czechoslovakia – exhibitors: Hugo Demartini, Milan Dobeš, Jan Kubíček, Karel Malich, Zdeněk Sýkora and Miloš Urbásek), Studio Galerie at Frankfurt University, Frankfurt am Main, organized by Hans-Peter Riese and Zdeněk Felix

1968 exhibits at the international exhibition of contemporary world art Documenta 4, Kassel • issue No. 3 of the magazine Vytvarné umění publishes an interview with Zdeněk Sýkora conducted by Josef Hlaváček, in which Sýkora sets out his views on art and his own work • Křižovatka a hosté, Nová citlivost (exhibition Crossroads and Guests, the New Sensitivity), Mánes gallery, Prague, organized by Vlasta Čiháková, Zdeněk Felix, Miroslav Lamač and Jiří Padrta

zivotopis/1965_R1_23_maly.jpg1969 exhibits at the 1st Biennale of Constructivist Art in Nuremberg – Konstruktive Kunst: Elemente & Prinzipien (Constructivist Art: Elements & Principles), exhibition theme: Dietrich Mahlow • the National Gallery in Prague makes first purchase of Sýkora’s work (Structures)

in the late 60s and early 70s his paintings and structures are acquired by several major European and American galleries, museums and private collections, including the McCrory Collection in New York, the Jan and Meda Mladek Collection in Washington, the National Gallery in Berlin, Stadtische Kunstgalerie in Bochum, Museum Folkwang in Essen, Etzold Collection – Museum Abteiberg in Monchengladbach, Jesus Soto Modern Art Museum in Ciudad Bolivar

1970 first retrospective exhibition, Václav Špála Gallery, Prague (this is his last exhibition in Czechoslovakia until 1987); exhibition theme: Zdeněk Sýkora and Jiří Padrta, catalogue texts by Josef Kroutvor, Vladimir Burda – Zdeněk Sýkora, Josef Hlaváček, Jan Sekera, Josef Hlaváček – Zdeněk Sýkora; poems by Emil Juliš, Ladislav Nebeský and Karel Milota; quotation of Paul Klee; list of exhibitions: Zdeněk Sýkora • the international art magazine Leonardo publishes an article on his work (in collaboration with Jaroslav Blažek) with particular reference to the links between science and art 

1971 exhibits at the 2nd Biennale of Art in Nuremberg, “Was die Schonheit sei, das weiss ich nicht”, Künstler-Theorie-Werk (“I Don’t Know What Beauty Is”, Artist – Theory – Works); exhibition theme: Dietrich Mahlow

1972–1973 after many different permutations, the structural period closes with “Macrostructures” and a new system of line works based on randomness is developed

1972 exhibition Konstruktive Kunst aus der Tschechoslowakei (Constructivist Art from Czechoslovakia – exhibitors: Hugo Demartini, Jan Kubiček, Karel Malich, Zdeněk Sýkora, Miloš Urbásek), Galerie im Erker, St. Gallen • selected to participate in the exhibition Konstruktivismus: Entwicklungen und Tendenzen seit 1913 (Constructivism: Developments and Tendencies since 1913), Galerie Gmurzynska + Bargera, Cologne

1973 exhibition Programm-Zufall-System, Ein neuer Zweig am alten Konzept der Sammlung Etzold, (Programme-Chance-System, A New Branch on an Old Concept), Etzold Collection, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, catalogue text Johannes Cladders
• first pictures with line as the basic element, initially still within a grid

1974 new line-based pictures with consistent use of randomness as the principle for all decisive data: the number of lines, their starting points, widths, lengths, colours, course and points of intersection; this system is gradually perfected to achieve maximum movement of individual lines on the surface of the canvas • International Computer Art Exhibition, Montreal, organised by Gilles Gheerbrant • invited to Symposion Gorinchem 74 in the Netherlands on the theme of art in public space; submitted a design for a footpath (85 m²), which was implemented in the course of the symposium; in 2005 it was restored and relocated; first collaboration with the gallery owner Antoinette de Stigter, who helped organise the event

1977 his pictures from the McCrory Collection are shown at the exhibition: Aspects historiques du constructivisme et de l’art concret (Historical Aspects of Constructivism and Concrete Art), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

1979 first exhibition of line-based works at the Kunstcentrum Badhuis, Gorinchem, Netherlands; exhibition theme: Antoinette de Stigter

1981 exhibition Cycle Media, Neuchatel (exhibitors: Max Bill, Marinus Boezem, Christophe Gossweiler, Francois Morellet, Olivier Mosset, Emma Park, Dominique Stroobant, Zdeněk Sýkora); exhibition theme: Marc Hostettler, catalogue text: Maurice Besset

1982–1986 works on an interview about his oeuvre conducted with his friend, the art historian Vítek Čapek; the interview was published in the catalogue: Zdeněk Sýkora, Retrospective 1945–95, Prague City Gallery, 1995 (Czech & English), and in the catalogue: Zdeněk Sykora, Retrospektive, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen, 1995 (German)

zivotopis/1989_R7_01_maly.jpg1983-84 work on the line-based painting Lines No. 24 (3 × 3 m, 227 lines), which he later entitled The Last Judgement

1983 solo exhibition at Art’14, Basel with Galerie Media Marc Hostettler in Switzerland • marries his former student Lenka (*16 June 1957, Pilsen), a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy & Arts at Charles University (Czech language and literature and art education, 1976–1981) 

1984 paintings with thick, coloured lines

1985 paintings with lines that were allowed to move only in a few randomly selected directions • beginning of collaboration with his wife Lenka Sýkorová

1986 first retrospective exhibition abroad – Quadrat-Moderne Galerie, Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop; exhibition theme and catalogue: Ulrich Schumacher

1987 exhibition Mathematik in der Kunst der letzten dreisig Jahre (Mathematics in Art over the Past Thirty Years), Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen; exhibition theme: Dietmar Guderian

zivotopis/1980_leta_KAT1_maly.jpg1988 major retrospective exhibition – oeuvre since 1947, House of Art, Brno; exhibition theme and catalogue text: Jiří Valoch; list of exhibitions, biographical data and bibliography: Lenka Sýkorová • solo exhibition at the Teufel Gallery, Cologne; resumed collaboration with Heinz Teufel, interrupted in 1968 • first documentary film: Freedom, Space and Chance in the Work of Zdeněk Sykora, directed by Marie Cigánková, with the expert assistance of Hana Dvořáková and Jaroslav Vančát 

1989 exhibition: Tschechische Malerei heute (Czech Painting Today), Esslingen; exhibition theme: Jana Ševčíková, Jiří Ševčík, Alexander Tolnay • creates a large canvas (3 × 6 m), which was exhibited at the symposium Konkret 9, Nuremberg; exhibition theme: Diet Sayler • paintings with “short-lived” lines; first painting with horizontal lines (until 1993)

1990 first painting with lines that can originate only at a few points (until 1994)

1991 solo retrospective exhibition – oeuvre since 1964, Heinz Teufel Gallery, Mahlberg, and Art Affairs Gallery (Antoinette de Stigter), Amsterdam; the catalogue was issued jointly by both galleries; catalogue texts: Herbert W. Franke, Hans-Peter Riese, Ulrich Schumacher, Walter Witt; biographical data, list of exhibitions and bibliography: Lenka Sýkorová • exhibition of contemporary Czech art entitled Tradition und Avantgarde in Prag (Tradition and Avant-Garde in Prague), Kunsthalle Dominikanerkirche, Osnabruck, and Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn; exhibition theme and organisation: Alena Pfautsch, Libor Veselý and Horst Vierkotter; main catalogue text: Karin Thomas • the town of Louny names him an honorary citizen 

1992 exhibition: Zufall als Prinzip – Spielwelt, Methode und System in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, (Chance as a Principle - Game Setting, Methodology and System in 20th Century Art), Biographical Data and Selected List of Exhibitions, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen; exhibition theme: Bernhard Holeczek and Lida von Mengden • solo exhibition of horizontal lines only, Galerie Paul Sties, Frankfurt am Main

1993 the first architectural project based on lines – Sýkoras Wand (12 metres), for the firm Selmoni AG, Basel; architect: Rolf Gutmann • documentary film on Zdeněk Sýkora in Czech TV’s Album series; director: Svatopluk Vála; expert assistance: Josef Hlaváček • paintings and sculptures at the exhibition: Poesie racionality, Konstruktivní tendence v českém umění 60. let (The Poetry of Rationality. Constructivist Tendencies in Czech 1960s Art); Wallenstein Riding School (Czech Museum of Fine Arts in Prague); exhibition theme and text: Jan Sekera; catalogue text: Josef Hlaváček 

1994 exhibition: Europa, Europa, Das Jahrhundert der Avantgarde in Mittel- und Osteuropa (Europe, Europe, The Century of Avant-Garde in Central and Eastern Europe), Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn; project directors: Ryszard Stanislawski and Christoph Brockhaus • paintings with jagged lines and lines that form surfaces prior to 1995, alongside his main activity he develops the scope of paintings started in the late 1950s: landscapes and the Spots cycle

1995 paintings with lines that all start from a single point (until 2004) • two major retrospectives: Prague City Gallery; exhibition theme: Karel Srp; catalogue texts: 

Jiří David, Josef Hlaváček, Hans-Peter Riese, Pavel Raiman, Vítek Čapek – Zdeněk Sýkora, Karel Srp; biographical data, list of exhibitions and bibliography: Lenka Sýkorova, and Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen; exhibition theme and catalogue: Richard W. Gassen, catalogue texts: Richard W. Gassen, Hans-Peter Riese, Vítek Čapek – Zdeněk Sýkora, Pavel Raiman; list of exhibitions and bibliography: Lenka Sykorova

1996 solo exhibition: Bilder und Objekte 1963–1995 (Pictures and Objects 1963–1995), Galerie Schoeller, Dusseldorf

1999 travelling exhibition Aspekte / Positionen – 50 Jahre Kunst aus Mitteleuropa 1949–1999 (Aspects / Positions -- 50 Years of Art from Central Europe 1949–1999); premiered in Vienna at the Museum moderner Kunst – Stiftung Ludwig; exhibition theme: Lorand Hegyi; Czech art: Jana Ševčíková and Jiří Ševčík

zivotopis/1999_R22_01_maly.jpg1999–2009 illustration for several books published by Aulos Publishers, Prague: Jan Neruda – Písně kosmické (Cosmic Songs, 1999), Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose – Povaha prostoru a času (The Nature of Space and Time), 2003, William Faulkner – Elly, 2005, Karel Hynek Mácha – Máj (May), 2007; Josef Hiršal a Bohumila Grögerová – Poezie struktury linie (Poetry Structures Lines) 2009; collaboration with Zdeněk Ziegler and Zdeněk Křenek – received three awards for Most Beautiful Czech Book of the Year in the Bibliophile category

2000 exhibition L’autre moitie de l’Europe 4 (The Other Half of Europe 4), Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; exhibition theme: Lorand Hegyi • first solo exhibition at the Benedikt Rejt Gallery in Louny; exhibition theme and catalogue: Zdeněk Sýkora and Lenka Sýkorová; catalogue text: Josef Hlaváček; biographical data and list of exhibitions: Lenka Sýkorová

zivotopis/2001_R24_01_maly.jpg2001 his picture Lines No. 137 from 1997 was chosen as logo for the newly-opened MUMOK - Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; exhibition theme: Lorand Hegyi • director and cameraman Jaroslav Brabec makes an hour-long documentary about him for the Czech TV series Evropané (Europeans), premiere 2002

2002 exhibition Lanterna Magika, New Technologies in Czech Art of the 20th Century, Espace EDF Electra, Paris; exhibition theme: Vít Havránek

2zivotopis/2003_R19_04_maly.jpg003 solo exhibition of most recent paintings, Zdeněk Sklenář Gallery, Prague • made Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture

2004 pictures with lines that simply pass through the format and have greater freedom of movement • exhibition: Passage d’Europe, Musee d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne; exhibition theme: Lorand Hegyi 

2005 his largest lines-based architectural project – a design for the entrance hall of the new Air Navigation Services of the Czech Republic building in Jeneč, a suburb of Prague – two paintings entitled Flying; organisation: Zdeněk Sklenář Gallery • his seminal work Lines No. 24 – The Last Judgement, 300 × 300 cm, 1984, is purchased by the Centre Pompidou, Paris; it was selected for an exhibition of the gallery’s collection entitled Big Banghe is awarded the Herbert-Boeckl-Preis in Salzburg, Austria, for his life’s work; in conjunction with the award, the Museum der Moderne Salzburg organised a retrospective exhibition; exhibition theme: Eleonora Louis; catalogue texts (German and Czech): Agnes Husslein-Arco and Vladimír Drápal; biographical data and list of exhibitions: Lenka Sýkorová 

2007 the painting Lines No. 24 becomes one of the permanent exhibits at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and is featured in its catalogue of contemporary art

2008 series of Zdeněk Sýkora exhibitions – Prints (Příbram, Olomouc, Litomyšl, Litvínov, Klatovy, Louny) • Zdeněk Sykora – Prints is published by Gallery in Prague as the first book in a planned eight-volume monograph series, author: Lenka Sýkorova (ed.), introduction by Jaroslav Vančát

2009 exhibition Letná XL, Zdeněk Sklenář Gallery, Prague commemorating the 40th anniversary of the mosaic on the Letná Tunnel ventilation shafts, exhibition concept and catalogue: Pavel Kappel, Lenka Sýkorova and Zdeněk Ziegler • becomes Vladimír Boudník award laureate for 2008

2010 seires of Zdeněk Sýkora exhibitions on the occasion of his anniversary – Zdeněk Sýkora 90, City Gallery Prague, exhibition theme and catalogue text: Pavel Kappel; Barva a prostor (Colour and Space), The Olomouc Museum of Art and Krajina (Landscape) in the Karlovy Vary Art Gallery, exhibition theme and catalogue text: Jan Samec

since the 1980s, his line paintings have been acquired by private collections throughout the world as well as by several European museums, including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Josef Albers Museum in Bottrop, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Museum fur Konkrete Kunst in Ingolstadt, Neues Museum in Nuremburg, MUMOK – Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna, Arithmeum at the Institute for Discrete Mathematics, Bonn University, The Museum of Applied Art in Cologne, Collection Peter C. Ruppert – Museum im Kulturspeicher in Wurzburg, Teufel Collection at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Hubertus Schoeller Stiftung – Leopold-Hoesch-Museum in Duren, Musée d’art moderne de Saint-Etienne and the National Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

zivotopis/2010_00302_2010-maly.jpg2011 died in Louny, July 12

© Lenka Sýkorová