Josef Lada
Czech Artist, Poet, and Landscape Painter

In 1887, Josef Lada was born in Hrusice, an area which is near Prague, to a poor, hardworking shoemaker. He was the youngest of four children.  After he finished his primary schooling he went into an apprenticeship.  Lada worked diligently to become a talented house painter.  He had a great skill even at a young age, but his family could not afford to let him leave to go and study art.
Therefore, after about seven months Josef walked away from house painting and journeyed to Prague to see if he could make a living down there. Lada's first trip was not great, so he decided to come back home in Hrusice. Lada wasn't going to give up and had much determination in his eyes so he set out to Prague again, where he landed a job as a book-binder.  He really loved working at this job. Josef then decided to enter into the city's Design School where he was accepted on his fourth attempt, but he dropped out in less than a term.
Josef later found work and illustrated his first children's book in the 1920's, which was in a Secessionist style.

He composed many satirical pictures and thoughtful cartoons at the start of his illustrative career.  It is as if he wanted those who view his work to think, laugh, and feel the connection on the topic he is using his art to explain.

Pavla Pecinkova, an expert on Josef Lada, says:

"At the start of his career he would draw in all sorts of different styles.  He set  out to establish himself as a caricaturist and published works under tens of different pen - names.  He experimented with all sorts of various styles which were being employed elsewhere in the satirical drawings of the time. So his repertoire is huge.  But his own individual style gradually develops and crystalizes around the year 1920. By 1920, Lada is a fully developed artist and he has adopted this specific, original, drawing style, which is typical for him - these thick black lines. It's this style, based on these dark black outlines which makes him famous today."

Josef used strong, bold, black lines for his work  because it needed to be seen on newspapers which were made from poor quality paper.  He also drew a large amount of artwork for fairy tale stories and even wrote a few stories of his own. One of the most popular tales he wrote and illustrated was 'Mikes the tomcat'. The story was about a speaking black cat named Mikes and in relation to its popularity several cats in the country today are called Mikes.

Also, every time Josef Lada painted classical pieces he figured out a way to somehow inject fairy tale attributes in them.  Lada, like all artists, created his work in his own world.


    Pavla Pecinkova explains:
"In the 1990's it was very fashionable to have a go at Lada for not including any evil in this parallel universe.  In Lada's paintings there is no sex, no violence, no death - the artist was criticized for presenting a 'dangerous ideal'.  I think that creating a parallel world as a form of escapism is not just something that Lada does.  All sorts of artists were doing this in the 1930's and throughout both of the World Wars.  The artist had the choice of using his art to engage with his surroundings, or to escape them.  Lada was one of these introverts  and sought inspiration from within. In his pictures it is eternal spring, there is harmony, children are playing.  It's a world of positive values."

What many don't know was that Lada was not only a terrific artist, but a very descriptive, detailed, insightful, brilliant poet.

Josef Lada passed away in 1957, but since he had individuality and achieved in various artistic things of different levels, Lada is still a very popular artist among Czechs today.  Czechs of all ages like his work beause it does not depict expressions, but instead a clear, visual tone that they can relate to. Lada himself wrote 13 books both for adults and children.  His most well-known picture is Jaroslav Hasek's 'Good Soilder  Svejk; which has been translated in over four dozen languages!

Pavla Pecinkova concludes:
"I changed the way I looked at Lada's work in the course of preparing this exhibition.  I know Lada, there is nothing new for me to discover . But then when you are in everyday contact with the pictures then you realize, "wow, there is probably more to it than that."

Many realize that even though his feel good landscapes were romantic and peaceful, he was still a very complex, pensive man.



    In conclusion, Josef Lada is a creative Czech artist and he is commonly known for his different illustrations of fairy tales and children's books. Also, Lada was known for his  pleasant landscapes, which are processed many times over on the front of the nation's Christmas cards.  Lada loved Christmas season and it was one of his most favorite times of the year.  People always enjoyed viewing his nice illustrations.  Some people may even capture and feel the same joyful emotions he felt when creating it as they stare at this art at a different perspective.

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