Vintage Czechoslovak Chocolate Ads On Display

A new exhibit at the National Gallery in Prague features the luscious legacy of artist Zdeněk Rykr

Like many working artists of the 1920s and 30s Czech painter and illustrator Zdeněk Rykr is most famous for his commercial work, designing striking ads for the Bat’a shoe company, Čedok travel agency, and packaging for Maršner-Orion, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in Czechoslovakia between the wars.

Vintage Czechoslovak Chocolate Ads On Display

Unrivaled in sophistication and originality, the self-taught artist most memorably created the blue chocolate star and the cord lettering on the Orion name that still exists on the brand’s packaging today.

Vintage Czechoslovak Chocolate Ads On Display

He also designed the striking wrapper for the Kofila candy bar with its blackamoor imagery, still in circulation today despite these racially sensitive times.

Vintage Czechoslovak Chocolate Ads On Display

Rykr’s whimsical graphic designs exist in stark contrast to an avant-garde solo career that produced expressionist, realist, and cubist works of a more haunting nature.

Vintage Czechoslovak Chocolate Ads On Display

Vintage Czechoslovak Chocolate Ads On Display

Rykr’s widespread commercial success and critical artistic acclaim make him a remarkable figure in the history of Czech art. He worked for Orion up until 1939.

Vintage Czechoslovak Chocolate Ads On Display

In 1940, facing arrest by the Gestapo as a “degenerate” artist during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, Rykr committed suicide by throwing himself under a train at Barrandov.

Vintage Czechoslovak Chocolate Ads On Display

Last week a retrospective of his illustrations and paintings, Zdeněk Rykr and the Chocolate Factory (Zdenek Rykr a továrna na čokoládu), opened at the National Gallery in Prague. It runs through August 28 and will exhibit his work in its entirety.

(Images: NG Prague)

 

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