Vladimír Janoušek came from eastern Bohemia towards which he maintained a personal tie throughout his whole life. Following the separation of Sudetenland, his family moved to Upice where Janoušek graduated from secondary school. He originally wanted to study architecture but he eventually started attending the Brno school of arts and crafts which shifted his interest towards fine arts. He did not complete his studies, however, because in 1941 he was forced to join the forced labour in the Third Reich. It was not until after the war that he continued to study at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, from where he graduated in 1950.
The beginnings of Janoušek’s work were influenced by his study in the studio of Josef Wagner and his friendships with his classmates including Věra Havlova (his future wife, sculptress Věra Janoušková), Zdeněk Palcr, Miloslav Chlupáč, Olbram Zoubek or Eva Kmentová. Their generational effort was to find an expression that would oppose the ideologically formed schematism of the Socialistic Realism. Back then the artists were finding support mainly in the interwar avant-garde, especially in France (moderate figural modernism, e.g. Henri Luarens, Ossip Zadkin, Jacques Lipschitz, Constant Permeke, and from the younger ones the Englishman Henry Moore). From the Czech tradition Janoušek related to Czech Cubism (Army, 1958, Head, 1961).
Janoušek finds his own expression around the mid 1960s. He learned to weld metal at the beginning of the 1960s and that was the determining factor for his future work. His statues started to lose traditional volume. Number of shapes is outlined by wire constructions. The overall impression is expressive and disturbing. “... they were figures surrounded by wire constructions, which marked their closest living space. It was too tight, however, to be able to say that it was a guarantee of peace and happiness. It looked more like a cage instigating its captives to escape, which increased the tension”, Jaromír Zemina states in his text. Janoušek’s main subject is the figure, which is strongly stylized into a prolonged image (Figure with the Motif of Time, 1966, Eternal Walker, 1966). During the second half of the 1960s Janoušek’s statues start to show an increasingly intense high-tech character – the statues look like some sort of machine mechanisms. This is completed by the element of a pendulum, which the sculptor took a fancy to and which became typical for his work. Towards the close of the decade Janoušek made a monumental composition out of cut out and welded sheet metal called
Hrozba války (Threat of War) (1968-69). The statue was intended for the Czechoslovak pavilion at the world exhibition in Osaka (1970). Janoušek conceived this piece in a political way: a line of apocalyptic militant figures marching from the Soviet pavilion with their guns poised at the neighbouring Czechoslovak pavilion. Following this event Janoušek became undesirable during the Normalization period for his uncompromising attitude. His proposals were excluded from public tenders and he was not allowed to exhibit.
The element of motion captivated Janoušek so much that it became dominant for his entire future work. During the 1970s he started to create statues-reliefs, parts of which can be adjusted in various positions (Krajina [Landscape], 1979). These variations lost Janoušek’s previous jagged expressivity and they developed a constructive character. Gradually the flatness of his relief forms changed to free sculpture, in which Janoušek continued to work with flat metal sheets. His work contained the author’s bitter confession reacting to his fate of being forced to live in seclusion. His statues became a symbolical expression of an individual’s battle or fall caused by exterior circumstances, which is confirmed by some of his titles such as Násilí (Violence) (1984), Terč (Target) (1984-85) or several of his statues entitled Pád (Fall).
Janoušek was primarily a sculptor, but he was also engaged in painting and drawing. However, he used to add three-dimensional elements to his paintings; therefore, we can refer to them rather as reliefs. His paintings were often of landscapes, primarily those that he was near to: below the Krkonoše Mountains region. Together with his wife, Věra Janoušková, since 1975 they often used to work at their country home in Vidonice near Pecka (below the Krkonoše Mountains). In his drawings, Janoušek used to use pen and ink, and the drawings related to his sculptures with respect to their subject.
Vladimír Janoušek entered Czech history as a sculptor using new sculpting techniques. First it was welding and then mounted statues – sheet metal, screws, nuts, strings and draw bars are an inseparable part of his work. His new technique of making a statue was also steered by the internationally spread direction – Kinetic art. Movement in Janoušek’s work is not active, but it is only suspected or possible by shifting, opening or turning individual elements. With his innovative processing of the figure he can also be considered as a representative of new figuration, which was one of the important tendencies of Czech art during the 1960s and 1970s.
Křídla, mobilní plastika, Třebíč
Krystal vzduchu, nádvoří školy, Kladno-Kročehlavy
Hrozba války, Expo v Ósace, symbolický protest proti okupaci Československa
Česká krajina, kašna, Jiřský klášter v Praze
Slunce, plavecký stadion Podolí, Praha
Hudba, Čs. pavilon Expo 58 Brusel
reliéf, Dům módy v Praze
1995 Jaromír Zemina, Vladimír Janoušek: Proč to dělám právě tak, Knihkupectví Portal, Uherské Hradiště
1990 Josef Hlaváček, Karel Srp, Jiří Šetlík, Vladimír Preclík, Galerie hl.m. Prahy
1967 Ludmila Vachtová, Vladimír Janoušek, Sochy. Oblastní galerie v Liberci
1962 Jiří Šetlík, Vladimír Janoušek, Nakladatelství československých výtvarných umělců, Praha