Acclaimed Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek dies at 91
The celebrated Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek died on Thursday at the age of 91. Zoubek, who studied at Prague’s UMPRUM (Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design), was the author of many sculptural works, including a memorial to the victims of communism at Prague’s Újezd at the foot of Petřín Hill.
“I grew up in the First Republic and lived through the German occupation, a short period of freedom and then the Russian occupation. When Jan Palach came it was like a miracle in contrast to the dirty and stinking mud [we were in]… I felt that I couldn’t just stand by and do nothing. Not many people know how to cast a death mask but I did and it was my idea.”
“I expected it but it wasn’t the kiss of death. I only couldn’t travel, I couldn’t sell my work, I couldn’t accept commissions. But I was able to work as a restorer and that wasn’t too bad. It was possible to survive.”
Among the foreign audience but also at home Zoubek was also very well-known for his Memorial to the Victims of Communism located at Prague’s Petřín Hill, commemorating those who suffered or lost their lives after the Communists seized power in 1948, to 1989 when it fell. Unveiled in 2002, the work shows seven ‘broken’ or ‘decayed’ bronze figures in a line on stairs, with missing limbs, more damaged the further they are away.
The monument has been criticized by some artists who slammed the design as kitsch, while others criticized the work for featuring only male and no female figures. Over the years no one could argue it hasn’t raised emotions and attracted attention. The largest retrospective of Olbram Zoubek’s work, meanwhile, was held at Prague Castle Riding School in November 2013.