By Emily O'Leary | Among almost 250 objects from Eastern Europe, the 1962 Dreams by Slovak artist Vincent Hloznik holds a precious place in the Hebrew Home’s permanent collection. This explicit, Surrealist-style linocut series with intriguing provenance—including its creation in Communist Czechoslovakia and bypassing of the Iron Curtain for exhibition in London in 1965—portrays visual messages about warfare and humanity inspired by traumas of the 20th century.
Vincent Hloznik, Untitled (from series Dreams), 1962, linocut, 14 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches image size (36.8 x 26.7 cm), 23 5/8 x 16 3/8 inches paper size (59.4 x 42.2 cm), edition of 20, image courtesy of Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale.
During the Cold War, only a handful of galleries in the West presented artworks from Eastern Europe. London’s Grosvenor Gallery offered one such portal. Founded in 1960 by eminent art collector Eric Estorick (1913–1993) and his wife, Salome (1920–1989), the Grosvenor Gallery was a premier venue for exhibiting works from the other side of the Iron Curtain. It was there that Vincent Hloznik, a prolific printmaker who experimented with almost every technique in existence, exhibited a major solo show of paintings and prints in 1965.1 The artist’s series of twenty color linocuts entitled Dreams, which was shown in the exhibition, was later acquired by the Hebrew Home around 1976.
Vincent Hloznik (1919–1997) was born in the small town of Svedernik in northeastern Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia). He studied drawing in secondary school and went on to attend the School of Decorative Arts in Prague in 1937. Just two years later, on March 15, 1939, German troops occupied the city. Hloznik remained in Prague, where he was profoundly affected by the daily atrocities that were occurring around him, including deportations, beatings and executions perpetrated by the Nazi authorities.2
[This article appears in full in the print and digital editions of Celebrating Print, Vol.3, No.1.]
1. Radislav Matustik, introduction to Vincent Hloznik: Paintings and Graphics, exh.cat. (London: Grosvenor Gallery, 1965).
2. Ludovit Petransky, Vincent Hloznik (Bratislava: Tatran, 1997), 116.
A full version of this article Vincent Hloznik's Dreams by Emily O'Leary appears in the print edition of Celebrating Print, Vol.3 No. 1.
EMILY O'LEARY is an art historian and curator. She graduated with a degree in art history from Purchase College, State University of New York after completing a curatorial fellowship at the Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, New York). As Associate Curator at the Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale, she has organized over 20 exhibitions, including The Politics of Paint: Landscape Painting in the Soviet Union, 1953–1964 (2014), Lithography in Leningrad: Soviet Graphic Arts in the 1950s and 60s (2014), Making Continuity Contemporary: Eastern Europe in New York (2016) and Vincent Hloznik: Between War and Dream (2015).