Josef Vydra

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Born February 8, 1884(1884-02-08)
Polańczyk, Austria-Hungary (today Poland)
Died July 27, 1959(1959-07-27) (aged 75)
Spišská Sobota, Czechoslovakia (today Slovakia)
Josef Vydra.jpg

Artist, ethnographer, and art theorist. Founding director of School of Arts and Crafts in Bratislava.


Vydra studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (prof. Vojtěch Hynais, 1903-08), attended lectures of Otakar Hostinsky at Charles University in Prague.

Since 1903 he was conducting research trips to study folk art in the Balkans, Slovakia, Poland, later studied folk production, cooperatives and open-air museums in Scandinavia.


From 1910 he worked as a high school teacher in Brno, where he founded and edited 8 volumes of the fine art magazine Náš směr. During the World War I he fought at the military front in Italy, and was awarded Signum Laudis medal.


In 1919 he was named, together with Dušan Jurkovič, a referee for fine and folk art at the governmental commissariat for preservation of artistic heritage in Bratislava. In 1921, Vydra co-founded the Society of Artistic Industry [Spoločnosť umeleckého priemyslu] oriented towards the production and promotion of modern design. The Society intended to organise production workshops and enterprises, but the generally low level of Slovak industry resulted in it being dissolved in 1924.

In 1921-26 he studied art history at Faculty of Philosophy at Comenius University in Bratislava.

He became honorary member of The Art Teachers' Guild in London.

In 1928, on Vydra's initiative, the School of Arts and Crafts [Škola umeleckých remesiel] (1928-1939) was founded in Bratislava with support from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to provide evening courses in drawing and advertising. In 1930 it merged with Učňovské školy, and included departments for painting, fashion and textile design, metal, wood, ceramics, photography, graphic art, retail design, and film. It quickly became one of the most progressive educational institutions in the arts and crafts in Europe during the interwar period.


After forced departure from Slovakia, he moved to Brno (1938-45) where was appointed director of its School of Arts and Crafts.


In 1946 he founded the Fine Art Department at Palacky University in Olomouc, which he led until 1953. His collaborators included Jan Zrzavý, F.V. Mokrý, Josef Vinecký, Lubomír Šlapeta.

In 1948 he received his Doctorate from Charles University in Prague (history and art history).

He was publishing and teaching until the end of his life.

See also[edit]


  • Alena Kavčáková, Josef Vydra (1884-1959) v kontextu umělecké a výtvarně pedagogické avantgardy 20. století: historie a současnost univerzitního výtvarného vzdělávání v Olomouci, Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci, 2010, 239 pages. ISBN 8024425866, 9788024425863. Contents. [1]
  • Alena Kavčáková, Vydrův pokus o tvorbu výtvarného učiliště, Univerzita Palackého, Olomouc 1993, 100 pages.

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