Jindřich Heisler

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Jindřich Heisler (1914-1953) was a Czech poet, photographer, and object-maker.

Heisler began his creative career around 1935 and in 1938 joined Czechoslovakia’s Surrealist Group. Within months of his entrance, however, the Nazi occupation drove Surrealism underground, and Heisler, the child of a mixed-faith marriage, spent most of 1941–1945 in hiding. Sequestered at a friend’s apartment during this time of great danger for Jewish and avant-garde artists alike, Heisler created a diverse and whimsical body of work—books of poetry, photographic series, and assemblage objects—some of which appeared publicly after the war.

In 1947, having survived the German occupation and sensing the return of totalitarianism at home, Heisler, along with his close friend and fellow artist Toyen (Marie Čermínová), moved to Paris and immediately joined the French Surrealist movement. (Heisler had published an anthology of verse by Paul Éluard one year previously.) In 1948–1949, Heisler headed the editorial team of Néon, a key Surrealist journal of the early postwar years. Alone and with André Breton, Benjamin Péret, and Toyen, Heisler created more object art—including a marvelous alphabet of wooden letters, faced with glued-on xylographic montages reminiscent of Max Ernst—as well as posters, film scripts, and poems. He died suddenly of heart failure in 1953. (Source)

  • Jindřich Heisler: Surrealism under Pressure, 1938-1953, eds. Jindřich Toman and Matthew S. Witkovsky, Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2012, 144 pp. [1] (English)
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