Poster by Vojtěch Preissig
stamp issues of the Czech Republic
issue date: October 28, 1998
to commmemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia
Graphic arrangement by Zdeněk Ziegler
engraved by Milo Ondráček
Vojtěch Preissig stands at the beginning of the modern Czech graphic art of the 20th century. Born on July 31, 1873 in Světec u Bíliny, he studied at the School of Applied Art in Prague from 1892 on. In his early work he was one of the foremost representatives of Art Nouveau style, in his late years he became a pioneer of abstract art. During his staying in Paris he worked with Alfons Mucha from 1898 until 1903.
After returning to Bohemia, he established a graphic art studio in Prague-Vinehrad where he created illustrations and dealt with typography. His book "Barevný lept a barevná rytina" (Color Etchings and Color Engravings) from 1909 is to be considered as a milestone in Czech graphic art.
In 1910, he moved to the USA where he lived and worked for 20 years gathering a lot of experiences which later heavily influenced the development of the graphic art in Czechoslovakia. Among others, Preissig taught at Columbia University in New York and directed the School of Printing and Graphic Arts at Wentworth Institute in Boston. During his stay in the USA, he never broke up the connections to Czech publishers and the Státní Tiskarna (State Printing House) at Prague. This organization gave the order to him to develop an original script/font for typography. This typography became worldwide known as PREISSIG ROMAN. You can see examples of this script on the stamps on this page. More graphic elements designed by Preissig have been used for the postmarks on the FDCs (see below).
During his time in the USA, Preissig supported the Czech and Slovak national movement in aiming for an independent state Czechoslovakia. In 1998, commemorating the 80th anniversary of Czechoslovakia's founding, the postage authorities of the Czech Republic honored Vojtěch Preissig by issuing three stamps with poster motives designed by him (see here and on the gallery page). And this is the story of the posters:
"Right at the end of the First World War, on 28th October 1918, the independent republic of Czechoslovakia was declared in the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The founding of Czechoslovakia was preceded by an enormous diplomatic and military effort, which was led abroad by T.G. Masaryk, later the first president of the republic. As well as Masaryk, the excellent Czech painter and graphic artist Vojtěch Preissig was staying in the USA during the war, and put his art at the service of the struggle for an independent republic. He drew a range of posters, flyers and postcards inviting volunteers to join the Czechoslovak legions fighting alongside the Entente powers. The stamps are thematically based on graphic work with this objective."
Already in 1919, Preissig became member of the SČUG Hollar, the association of the Czech graphic artist which was founded in 1917. He returned to his native country in 1930 and began - based on his rich experiences abroad - to work on a series of abstract paintings. As a Czech patriot, he published from 1938 on propaganda against Hitler and against the occupation of the Czech lands during the time of the Protectorat. He also helped to print the magazine of the resistance movement "V boj" (In the fight). In 1940, he was arrested and died on June 11, 1944 in the concentration camp of Dachau. Right after the war, Preissig became a honored member of the SČUG Hollar in memoriam.