Josef Šíma

Josef Šíma

1891 – 1971

Josef Šíma (March 18, 1891 – July 24, 1971) was a renowned Czech painter, an important figure of modern European art.

After graduating from Academy of Arts in Prague where he was the student of Jan Preisler he was involved in the Devětsil movement and in Umělecká beseda in Prague before travelling to Paris in 1921. He took French citizenship in 1926. He was artistic director for the journal Le Grand Jeu in 1929 and friend of French poets René Daumal, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte and Roger Vailland.

His sources of inspiration spanned from sensual experience, through civil themes, geometric abstraction, imaginative seeking of archetypes of nature, things and human existence pictured as crystals, cosmic egg and female torsos to fascination by landscapes and mythology, until he finally united all these elements and made a synthesis of them in cosmic visions and symbols of human destiny.

He exhibited at documenta 2 in 1959. He also illustrated many books, made book covers, scenic paintings and designed stained glass windows (e. g. in The Church of St Jacques in Reims).