The Black Madonna House or House of the Black Madonna sounds intriguing doesn’t it? Well the building is strictly for aficionados of cubist architecture. We made sure in all the architectural and cultural diversions in Prague that we did not miss it.The museum shop on the ground floor has some very tempting items of furniture and ceramic objects.
The architect of this building Josef Gočár was very young when he designed the building to function as a department store. It was remarkable that he was given this commission as he was only 31 years of age. It was built between 1911 and 1912.
Gočár turned to the national Czech Rondocubism style in the early ’20s. Later on he adopted the Functionalist approach to architecture. Among his greatest accomplishments is the Czechoslovak Pavilion for the Paris Exposition in 1925 where he was awarded the Grand Prize for his design. In 1926 Gočár was awarded the (Legion of Honour) Ordre de la Légion d’honneur from France.
Czech artists were amongst those at the time who took to Cubism with alacrity. Some of the artists from here had made a name for themselves during this period on the world stage and of course in France where they had many contemporaries.
Czech cubism is defined as having sharp points and slicing planes. It has crystalline shapes and the buildings had pyramid shapes on exteriors. Also black outlines were used to delineate the shapes.
The Black Madonna is a stone sculpture that originally adorned one of the two Baroque buildings on the same corner. After many years the building had altered use in the interwar period and under communist rule, the house was closed in January 2002 and re-opened after extensive restoration in November 2003.
Gočár’s building was subject to strict harmonization rules requiring that the department store not conflict with its historical setting. The building’s design extrapolated on baroque architecture in a Cubist form.
The black Bentwood chair is the docent’s chair, not part of the exhibition.
The cafe is on the first floor but it was closed for a long time and now enjoys a revival. The green silk shades add a soft touch to the metal cubist design of the light fitting.
We loved the design/decor but the food quality was lacking, even the cake cabinet display did not tempt me. I should have had the pancakes. However if you are here you must go if only to see the decor and to sit and imagine the days when this was an apogee of avant-garde design.