Hugo Demartini

Hugo Demartini

Born July 11 1931, Prague
Died September 15 2010, Sumrakov (Studená)

In the 1960s, Hugo Demartini significantly contributed not only to form the Czech informal and neoconstructive art but also to the initial phase of land art and action art. He radically changed the form of sculpture. At the turn of the 1960s, he abandoned the realistic depiction of a figure and, instead of dealing with the volume, as was traditional, he focused on the area. He experimented with methods which were not typical for sculptors until he arrived at abstract forms, geometry, rational organization, strict order, and also later at the discredited element of coincidence.

sculpture, neo-constructivism, action art, land art, performance, Not in map


After he graduated from the Academy (1949-1954), he created structural reliefs under the influence of Art Informel. However, structures and the regular repetition of shapes such as semi-spheres and their segments soon started to appear in his reliefs. His desire for a different rhythm and a different articulation of space was demonstrated in his plaster cast reliefs.


He met Jiri Kolář in 1961. During their meetings in Café Slavia he got to know other artists (Zdeněk Sýkora, Karel Malich, Radoslav Kratina, Jan Kubíček) who mutually influenced each other and who followed a similar direction within the trends of constructivism. They were attracted by Kolář's sensitive sense for everything that was of some value


Relief (sculpture)


Experimentation became an integral part of Demartini's artistic work. He looked for shapes and compositions based on the possibilities of the material and, by using the principle of variability and openness to the audience, he was in tune with foreign trends. He admired modern technologies and replaced colour with the high gloss of chromium-plated balls which he placed in a muddy environment and observed the changing image of their surroundings as was reflected on their surface (1968). Actions in nature were only a small step away from his radical experiments with random compositions and in this way he contributed to Action Art. He threw various smaller objects (tapes, stripes, skewers, wooden sticks, confetti, fragments of cardboard, paper tubes) in the air and examined the process of creation, existence, and the end of a structure which randomly changed during flight in conformity with the laws of free fall and nature. Jarosla Franta's photographs Demonstrations in Space (1968, 1969) show that they always took only a few seconds to fall. However, they had special dynamics caused by their unpredictability. His experiments did not receive much attention in his time, only Jiří Kolář expressed his support for Demartini.


Demartini's fascination with the unpredictable and random also influenced his method of work. He called it a cluster of coincidences and continued to use it (for example in his collection of reliefs he fixed various objects to a board where they fell Outside the Delimited Place, 1973-1976)


Culmination / The Apex of Czech Fine Art (group exhibition, Prague)

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2022