Tavik Frantisek Simon

Bohemia / °1877 / / wikipedia
Simon was born in Železnice (known at that time as Eisenstadtl) near Jičín. As a student at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague, he received a stipend that allowed him to travel to Italy, Belgium, England and France. He had his first solo exhibition in Prague in 1905, and a Paris exhibition in 1906. His extensive travels would eventually also bring him to New York City, London, the Netherlands, Spain, Morocco, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, and Japan, images of all of which appear in his work.

After spending 1904–1914 based in Paris, Simon returned to Prague and became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague. In 1917, he became a founding member of the Hollar Association of Czech Graphic Artists, which he later chaired.

Many of his most notable images are of Prague, New York, and Paris, but also include portraiture and self-portraiture and images of the Czech and Slovak countryside. Šimon's style was strongly influenced by the French Impressionists and, perhaps through them, by Japanese printmaking techniques, in particular color aquatints with soft ground etching. Šimon was also a master of the mezzotint but completed very few prints in this difficult medium, most of them being female nudes in subtle tones of black.

He was 49 years old when he undertook the journey of his lifetime, sailing literally around the world departing Cherbourg in September 1926 and travelling through the USA, crossing the newly built Panama Canal to sail the Pacific to the Far East and then back home to Europe via Ceylon and the middle East.

On his return, he compiled his letters and released the book 'Listy Z Cesty Kolem Světa', published by J. Otto, Prague in 1928.

His notes and letters home reveal a world that was unknown by those in Old Europe – a challenging new mechanistic society in America, a transforming Empire in the Far East, and an untouched paradise in the island of Ceylon. His glimpses into the past provide us...
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Suzan Hamer


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