Martin Zet: Destiny of the Nation - Sculptor Otakar Švec

from 18 july do 28 august 2005

press realease

Otakar Švec (born on 23rd of November 1892, died on 4th of April 1955) studied sculpture in the studio of J.V. Myslbek and J. Štursa. Later he taught at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts and exhibited at representative exhibitions in Venice, Paris, and Philadelphia. Between the 1910s -1940s he created several monuments and figurative sculptures for architecture, the celebrated work Motorcyclist – The Sunbeam and also a series of fine portraits of famous Czech artists. Six of these portraits will be reproduced and exhibited between the 24th of April and the 28th of May 2006 in the stone frames situated in the Letná wall. There will be presented portraits of Josef Bohuslav Foerster (1918), Voskovec and Werich (1930), Vítězslav Nezval (1932), Jan Neruda (1942), and Vítězslav Novák (1948).


Švec’s work shows the cultivated culture of the Czechoslovakian state in between the wars, which sharply contrasted with the case of Stalin’s monument. In 1949, Švec, like the majority of sculptors of the time, participated in the generously sponsored competition for Stalin’s monument, and to his great surprise he won the competition. He created a work which became a celebration of one of the biggest murderers of all times. Otakar Švec committed suicide several days before the completion and a year after his wife took her own life. The monument was unveiled on the 1st of May 1955, but already in the year 1962 it was dynamited.

The project of Martin Zet does not evoke just a sad personal story of one modernist artist but the whole project deals with broader issues. It tackles the problem of moral responsibility of the artist and generally of each citizen.