Gutfreund, Otto (1889–1927) By Moseman, Eleanor
Otto Gutfreund is recognized as the most important Czech sculptor of the early 20th century. Trained in Paris under Antoine Bourdelle, Gutfreund took an interest in Gothic art and Cubism. This exposure catalyzed his Cubist period (1911–1919) and he quickly emerged as the leader of Czech Cubist sculpture. In Prague in May 1911, Gutfreund became a founding member, treasurer (1912), and later chairman (1913) of Skupina výtvarných umělců [The Group of Fine Artists] (1911–1914). He also contributed to their magazine Umělecký Měsíčník (1911–1914). Gutfreund returned to Paris in spring 1913 and again in April 1914. Upon the outbreak of World War I, he joined the French Army and was sent to the Foreign Legion. Gutfreund spent the postwar period of January 1919–July 1920 in Paris and made his last Cubist works. Upon returning to Prague, he shifted from Cubism to “Civilismus” (between 1920–1927), a style that celebrated the citizen of the newly founded Czechoslovak Republic and bore an affinity to the pan-European return to Classicism and Realism. At the end of his life he approached abstraction in sculptures that move from the soberness of Civilismus to experimental modernism.