jiří trnka
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Jiří Trnka, Founder of Czech Animated Movies

Jiří Trnka was a prominent Czech visual artists and one of the founders of Czech animated movies. His illustrations accompanied several generations of children.

jiří trnka

Growing up with Marionettes

jiří trnkaJiří Tomáš Trnka was born on February 24, 1912 in Pilsen. Although his parents had regular professions, some of his relatives were making marionettes. Young Trnka’s growing up with these toys would condition his artistic direction. Even more important for his career was that fact that one of his secondary school teachers, Josef Skupa, noticed his talent and introduced him to the marionette theatre. It was him who convinced Trnka’s parents they should let their son study art. By the way, it was the same Josef Skupa who founded Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre.

And so Jiří Trnka studied at the Academy of Arts in Prague and won a painting competition a year before graduating. He designed set pieces for Skupa’s theatre and thanks to his talent, he also got illustrating jobs at newspapers and magazines. After graduating, he had his own marionette stage at the Rokoko theatre in Prague but he was forced to abandon this project for financial reasons.

Jiří Trnka, Illustrator and Scenograph

Thanks to his unique style, Trnka quickly became a top Czech illustrator.

jiří trnka

If you owe some Czech fairy-tale books, you are probably familiar with his dreamy illustrations. To mention at least a few, he illustrated the famous book Broučci by Jan Karafiát, Zimní pohádka o Smolíčkovi by František Hrubín or H. Ch. Andersen’s fairy-tales.

Trnka designed costumes and sets for the National Theatre in Prague and the Vinohrady Theatre and sets for Expo 64 and 67.

Founder of Czech Animated Movies

Jiří Trnka was a co-founder of the Bratři v triku studio that produced successful animated stories like Zvířátka a Petrovští that received an award at the festival in Cannes. However, his passion were marionettes, therefore, he founded a studio called Studio loutkového filmu (Marionette Movie Studio) which produced the first animated marionette movie called Špalíček based on the book by Mikoláš Aleš. Just a little later, he produced his very own marionette movie Císařův slavík.

Family Life

Jiří Trnka was married twice and had five children. He purchased a famous residence in Prague’s Kampa where he lived close to his friend Jan Werich. According to his grandson, Trnka was always working and spent little time with his family. Trnka illustrated his first wife’s book Zuzanka objevuje svět (Little Zuzana discovers the world, by Helena Chvojková).

If you’d like to know more about Czech artists, scientists and other personalities, visit the category People.

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