Prague: Statní Nakladatelství Detské Knihy, 1966. Single volume, measuring 9.25 x 6.5 inches: 167, . Original white cloth stamped in tan, black and blue endpapers, top edge stained blue, glossy unclipped color pictorial dust jacket. Title page printed in blue and black; nineteen full-page color collages. Light spotting to boards and edges, edgewear and tape reinforcement to jacket, small chip to head of jacket spine.
Expanded edition of this illustrated survey of the countries of the world by Czech artist Adolf Hoffmeister (1902-1973), first published in 1956. His brilliantly colored modernist collages of New York, Paris, Egypt, Spain, China, Japan, and Brazil reflect Hoffmeister’s defiantly cosmopolitan world view, in both subject and technique. Born into a wealthy Prague family, Hoffmeister was one of the founders of the avant-garde Devetsil group of Czech artists and writers. In the 1930s, he launched the anti-fascist magazine Simplicus, worked with Jewish refugees, and wrote the libretto for Hans Krása’s 1938 opera Brundibar, performed by children in the Terezín concentration camp. Imprisoned during the war, Hoffmeister managed to escape and flee to New York, where his anti-fascist drawings were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. He served as the Czechoslovak ambassador to France from 1948 to 1951, when he was recalled, suspected of being too Western in his sympathies. His diplomatic career over, Hoffmeister taught art in Prague, became president of International PEN, and served as Czechoslovakia’s representative to UNESCO. His son Martin recalled: “He was often chosen to represent the country at cultural events because of his broad knowledge, his connections and his knowledge of languages. He went to China, Egypt, Japan, North and South America. . . . His students would wait excitedly for him to return and tell them what was happening in the West and what was new in modern art” (Haaretz). After the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968, Hoffmeister fled to France, but returned in 1970, and died under house arrest. Text in Czech. A very good copy of a wide-ranging, graphically exuberant book, all the more striking for the isolation in which it was produced.