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Cumpelik, Jan (Čumpelík, Jan)

Чумпелика, Яна

Born January 28, 1895, Dobrovice, Austro-Hungarian Empire; died October 12, 1965, Prague, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic

In 1947, the American newspaper editor and publisher Leo Lerner characterized Jan Cumpelik as “a powerful contemporary painter”. While Cumpelik was a classically trained artist, by the late 1940s his work was fashioned under the influence of Soviet mandates and similar in tone to art being created by Josef Broz, Alena Čermáková and, other Eastern European contemporaries.

Cumpelik received his artistic education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. As a professional, he exhibited in his native Czechoslovakia as well as in the Eastern Bloc and in the United States. In 1927, he received the Josef Mánes Prize for his work. Mánes was a famed artist during the era of 1800s Romanticism. Following the Second World War, Cumpelik worked as a commission artist for the socialist regime of Czechoslovakia. In 1953, he co-founded the Army Art Studio (Armádní výtvarné studio) in Prague and served as its artistic director. His work thereafter often dealt with workers, peasants and political subject matter. Most noted from this period include his painting “At the Dawn of February Morning” (Na Úsvitu únorového dne) from 1950 and his “Thanksgiving of the Czechoslovak people to Generalissimo J. V. Stalin” from 1951. The 1951 work was a canvas counterpart to a mammoth-sized statue of Stalin then under construction in Prague’s Letná Park.

While painting was his forte, he also delved into graphic design. In 1955, Cumpelik's art was used in a Czechoslovakian postage stamp series titled "The Construction and Defense of our Country". One of his most noted posters was created for the “Exhibition of the History of Revolutionary Struggles” (1949) where he styled a modern revolutionary fighter advancing with a dramatic shadow of a 15th century Hussite fighter in the background.

Among his exhibitions was the 1936 show at the Union of Fine Artists in Prague and in 1986, a retrospective of his work was also exhibited in Prague.

Sources & Citations

Aulich, J., & Sylvestrová, M. (2000). Political posters in Central and Eastern Europe, 1945-1995: Signs of the times. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Database of the National Library of the Czech Republic (Jan Čumpelík) (Armádní výtvarné studio) (obraz od j. Čumpelíka) (Thanksgiving of the Czechoslovak people to Generalissimo J. V. Stalin) (ibid)