The Stamp Gallery of Czech and Slovak Graphic Art
Born on September 19, 1912 in the small Bohemian village Vidolice near Kadaò, Josef Liesler celebrated
his 85th birthday in 1997. He studied the arts at the College of Architecture and Landscape Construction in Prague
and - among others - he was a pupil of Cyril Bouda. With his works, he is part of various collections of the Czech National
Gallery in Prague, but also in many galleries of cities both in the Czech Republic and abroad.
His 85th birthday was the reason for honoring him with a great exhibition of his life work and
to celebrate him as one of the greatest Czech artists of this century who also is well known abroad.
Liesler not only is member of the two best known artistic associations of the Czech Republik -
SVU MÁNES, the association of fine arts since 1942 and SÈUG HOLLAR, the association
of the Czech print artists since 1945 -, he also is member of the Royal Belgian Academy and of the
Academy of Fine Arts in Florence (Italy).
In the center of the Prague exhibition stood his paintings and the graphic work which both show a kind of surrealistic
symbolism. You can describe his style which is full of imagination with words like epic, decorative and extremely
rich of details, showing a tender feeling for human values and humanity.
Right at the beginning, he was influenced by admiring old masters like Dürer, El Greco, Velasquez, Goya oder Daumier.
He also was inspired by literature, music, history and religion. First, he reached public attention in 1939, when he took part of
the first legendary exhibition of the so-called group "Sedm v øijnu" (The Seven in October). And from this time on,
he had his roots among the young generation of Czechoslovak artists from the 40ies. The artists of this generation
tried to reflect in their works the depressing atmosphere of the German occupation in the Protectorate "Böhmen
und Mähren" and of World War II by their surrealistic style.
He reached masterly skill in nearly all graphic techniques, among others wood cut, lithography, sculpture and
graphic illustration. Sovereign lineation, a feeling for dynamic compositions and a masterly use of naive painting made
Josef Liesler to a non-interchangeable personality full of expression.
Besides his paintings and graphics, Liesler illustrated more than 100 book covers and created nearly
100 stamps of Czechoslovakia and the modern Czech Republic. You can see a small selection on the
"best of" page (in German). The typical Liesler style makes these stamps easily to recognize.
Although he already is pretty old, I think, that we will be able to enjoy still more stamps from him in the future, too.