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Modern and Contemporary Art
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Artist: Jirí Kolár, Czech, 1914–2002

Untitled (Knife and Rolling Pin)


Mixed media on board

40.005 × 29.845 cm (15 3/4 × 11 3/4 in.)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
Jiří Kolář was a prominent poet, visual artist, and translator whose avant-garde artistic practice and radical political stance made him a dissident under the Stalinist Czechoslovakian government. After initially making a living as a writer, Kolář began to create visual art that dissolved the relationship between word and image, thus resisting the academic and Socialist Realist artwork favored by the communist regime. In Untitled (Knife and Rolling Pin), the attached objects fuse with text in a surprising combination of modern typography and ordinary kitchen utensils. This playful arrangement dissolves both the utilitarian role of the objects and the legibility of the text, demonstrating how Kolář used art to subvert the use of language and imagery for government propaganda. This work symbolizes an act of resistance against the totalitarian regime.
20th century

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2006–June 30, 2007,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 242.

Cathleen Chaffee, Eye on a Century: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 92, 95, 173, no. 40.

Frauke V. Josenhans et al., Artists in Exile: Expressions of Loss and Hope (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2017), 179, no. 23, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.