František Zelenka Terezín 1944 theater props
František Zelenka Terezín 1944 theatre props

František Zelenka (1896 – 1942) was a Czech architect and stage and graphic designer. He was born in Prague. Zelenka’s career in the theatre was initiated by K.H. Hilar, the National Theatre director in Prague in 1926.

Education

He studied České vysoké učení technické (Czech Technical University), Prague.  

Biography

In 1930, he became a member of SČSD (Czechoslovak Werkbund). He designed several interiors, including the flat (with its ‘blue room’) for composer Jaroslav Jezek. He wrote for various magazines. 

Costume design by František Zelenka for Rinald in Act IV of Armida at the National Theatre in Prague, 1928.
Costume design by František Zelenka for Rinald in Act IV of Armida at the National Theatre in Prague, 1928.

Between 1929-32, he was active as a stage designer at Osvobozené divadlo (The Liberated Theater) and, subsequently, for the National and Stavovské theatres. Both in Prague. Zelenka created settings for such classics at North against South, The Golem, Don Juan & Co., Caesar, Robin Hood, all between 1930 and 1932.

His work in the theatre was influenced by cubism and constructivism and was completely free from dogmatism. Zelenka worked with both styles to have them meet the requirements of the theatre. Zelenka developed professional relationships with all the actors. He devised costumes for these stars and was condsidered an accomplished tailor and courturier.

František Zelenka Costume design - neighbor
František Zelenka Costume design – neighbor

Between 1926-37, he designed several posters for theatres and films. 

He was killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. 

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Jewish Publication Society of America. (1968). The Jews of Czechoslovakia; historical studies and surveys.

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