As a follow up to the post dedicated to the work of Osvald Polivka I would like to present two decorative elements on the façade of the Topič building, work due to the Czech sculptor Ladislav Jan Šaloun.
Ladislav Jan Šaloun (b Prague, 1 Aug 1870; d Prague, 18 Oct 1946). was student of the sculptors Thomas Seidan (1830-90) and Bohuslav Schnirch. As many artists and sculptures at the turn-of-the-century, Šaloun too was influenced by the work and style of Auguste Rodin, whose Prague exhibition he saw in 1902. The vagueness of the shapes, the formation of figures from the raw marble, the pathos of the composition, the dramatic expressions of the characters, were elements which Šaloun admired in the works of Rodin.
In Hradecko, in the Secession building due to the architect Osvald Polívka 1912 other works of Ladislav Šaloun are characterized by an evident sensual and melancholic mood. Abandoned the vagueness of the unformed marble material, shapesd in a more classicist or neo-renaissance style, these statues are notwithstanding characterized by an introspective attitude, a typical “humor noir”, a melancholic expression of the faces which recalls the title of a philosophical work of Theophrastus, the Melancholy of the Genius. This feeling is typical symbolist and decadent attitude:
Symbolism. The symbolic element, remarked by the beauty of the Art Nouveau line, engraved by typical Secese female figures. The smooth gesture and the dreaming attitude of the sculptured women on the Topič building façade are somewhat similar to a magazine vignette rather than a plastic sculpture, completely different from the style of the previous Šaloun works.
By a pure aesthetic point of view, some noticeable similarities between one of the sculpture and a woman depicted for a poster of Alphonse Mucha: position of the head, dreaming and ecstatic sight, spatial position of bodies and shoulders. A typical fin-de-siécle Czech sensibility toward arts ?