Czechoslovakia: circa 1977-1983. Spiral-bound wall calendar, measuring 15 x 9.5 inches. Pictorial cover lithograph printed in metallic gold and silver inks on black paper; twelve pictorial lithographs in color and metallic inks, printed on rectos only, with printed calendar for each month below; stiff backing board covered in black cloth.
Color lithographed Czechoslovak art calendar, a wordless work of science fiction, featuring themes of robots, circuitry, rockets, and computers. The futuristic themes explored in these lithographs have a rich history in Czech modernism. The word “robot” was invented in Prague, when Karel Capek’s science fiction play R.U.R., subtitled “Rossum’s Universal Robots,” premiered at the National Theater in 1921. Zdenek Sýkora, who taught in Prague from the 1960s through the 1980s, was a global pioneer in the use of computers in art, and fellow members of the Krizovatka group of artists rebelled against the socialist realism endorsed by the state to explore the “new nature” of technical civilization. In 1978, Czechoslovak cosmonaut Vladimir Remek became the first from a country other than the United States or the Soviet Union to explore space. From stark saturated diagrams of circuitry, probably copied from actual devices, to geometric machines floating in the dark, these lithographs have a dream logic all their own. The calendar corresponds to a common year beginning on Saturday, January 1, and ending on Saturday, December 31. These dates, combined with the images of analog circuit boards dating from the 1970s, narrow the likely year to 1977 or 1983. A compelling unrecorded artifact.