The Museum of Avant-garde

Devětsil / Poetism

Under the name of Umělecký Svaz Devětsil (Devětsil Artistic Federation) - from 1925 also referred to as Svaz moderní kultury Devětsil (the Devětsil Union of Modern Culture) - gathered a group of artists from Czech Republic of Marxist orientation and diverse aesthetics. Not quite an art movement in itself, Devětsil welcomed and attracted various members from other avant-garde movements, for instance Constructivism and Dada. From 1923 the group founding members Vítězslav Nezval and Karel Teige presented a manifesto for a new artistic program, Poetism, who declared art dead and defined a new form of expression that could recognise the poetics in everyday’s objects. It was thanks to the influence of Constructivist photomontage and Dada collage, together with the principles of Poetism, that the Devětsil produced the concept of picture-poems, combining poetry and illustrations, visual representation and text. It is no surprise that the group encompassed various artistic forms and attracted talents from literature, sculpture, film-making, theatre, graphic design and architecture. Its legacy lies in the choice of clear typography, where text adapts to function and content, optical poetry and typo-photo print – all elements that defined a completely new lexicon, and are still part of today’s visual communications.


Vitezslav Nezval
Zdeněk Rykr
Karel Teige
Jindřich Štyrský