František Krásný

Date of birth: 6. 6. 1865 Koterov u Plzně

Death date: 14. 6. 1947 Mariánské Lázně

Biography

A student of Wagner at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and a pioneer of Art Nouveau in Bohemia, the architect František Krásný was born on the 6th of July 1865 in Koterov near Pilsen. After finishing secondary technical school in the West Bohemian capital in 1885, he left for Vienna where he firstly was trained by Karl von Hasenauer and then by Otto Wagner. He practised in the studios of leading architects, collaborating for example with Josef Hoffman. Although he remained in Vienna for as long as until 1920, he also participated in competitions and made designs for Bohemia – especially for Prague and Pilsen but also for other, smaller towns. He also worked for the Czech minority in Vienna, above all for the Sokol sports organisation. As a leading worker of the Czech Sokol organisation building department, he is often seen as “the Sokol court architect”. In this position he designed up to 150 Sokol gymnasiums in Bohemia and Moravia as well as in Slovakia. He created the prototype for an ideal Sokol house, which he varied for individual commissions and, as one of not many, he was also literally active in the discipline of gymnasium construction. His reflections, theoretical texts and practical recommendations were published, for example, in the handbook by the editor Ludvík Čížek, Stavby sokoloven a cvičišť sokolských, jejich výbava a vnitřní vybavení (Construction of Sokol gymnasiums and training grounds, the equipment and interior equipment thereof). Additionally, he contributed to professional periodicals, for instance Architect SIA, where he held the position of the Chair of the Editorial Board, and in the bulletin of the Club for Old Prague, where he was a member.

The multifaceted architectural manuscripts of František Krásný underwent a long development. From the initial influence of Historicism, especially Neo-Renaissance, he gradually advanced to Art Nouveau during the 2nd half of the 1890s. Beautiful apartment houses and a villa in Pilsen from the years 1897–1899 rank alongside buildings by Friedrich Ohmann and Osvald Polívka as among the first Art-Nouveau realisations in the region. However, this new architecture morphology was received by the public with great reluctance, as was evident from the comment at the time by Josef Lhota (the father of Karel Lhota, a collaborator with Loos), who considered these houses unsuitable “for our royal Pilsen, which, after all, boasts superb monuments of building art cultivated at home and does not need in the process of revival to be refreshed by foreign elements in meliorating its avenues, squares and streets”.

Wagner’s Modernism influenced a lot of his students, with Krásný being no exception. However, its original, rationalist content more or less trailed away during the 1910s and a form of Classical order subsequently entered all of Krásný’s work. In the 1920s, he managed to free himself from the excessive decor of the historicising period. He also advocated departing from all plastic decorative elements in his theoretical text. He wanted decoration to be simple and solely tectonic. Still, the rather conservatively minded Krásný belonged to the generation of architects who were, with their age and views, forerunners of the young radical authors advocating Functionalism.

František Krásný died in Mariánské Lázně at the age of almost 82 on the 14th of July 1947. His birthplace has, however, not forgotten him – since the beginning of 2015, citizens of Koterov have been preparing a “Memorial site for František Krásný and Sokol Koterov” on the premises of the local Sokol gymnasium, also known as Tyrš Small House, the author of which is František Krásný.



Selection of other works

1896
Competition design for the Czech Municipal Theatre in Pilsen (together with J. Hoffmann, 1st – 2nd prize)

1897
Apartment building with shops nos. 167 and 168 on the corner of Prešovská and Bedřicha Smetany Streets, Pilsen

1898
Kestřánek’s villa Marie, Pilsen
František Kotek apartment building with shops, no. 166 Bedřicha Smetany St., Pilsen
Design of an apartment building with shops of the butcher Šimandl, Solní St., Pilsen
Design of three houses with brewing rights, Pilsen
Apartment building with shops, no. 140, Bedřicha Smetany St., Pilsen

1899
Bedřich Tichý farmhouse, Pilsen
Apartment building with shops of Rudolf Štech, no. 218, Riegrova St., Pilsen

1904
Competition design for the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Pilsen (1st prize)

1914–1917
Živnostenská bank, Vienna

1920
Ljubljana Credit Bank, Ljubljana

1922–1926
Regeneration and adaptation of Michna Palace in Prague into the headquarters of the Sokol sports organisation (Tyrš House)

1924–1925
Sokol gymnasium, Litomyšl

1927
House of the Union of Engineers and Architects (SIA), Prague

1928
Modernisation of the Credit Union, Kopeckého sady, Pilsen

1928–1930
Sokol gymnasium, Nové Město

1929
Sokol gymnasium, Pilsen–Koterov
Sokol gymnasium, České Meziříčí

1933
Reconstruction of the Platýz complex, Prague

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