Ladislav Sutnar, one of the most important figures of Czech inter-war modernity and an important figure of American and world-class applied art and design, takes the lead among famous Pilsen natives. Given the breadth of Sutnar's scope and the ever-expanding range of disciplines of our school, it was only a matter of time before Sutnar's legacy intersected with the path to the future of the original Institute of Art and Design, today's Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art (FDA). On a symbolic level, this happened in May 2011, when the former University Gallery was newly opened as the Ladislav Sutnar Gallery after its interior reconstruction. One month later, both the gallery and school were visited by Sutnar’s son, Radoslav L. Sutnar, who officially permitted the Institute to use his father's name and one of his logos.
In the case of Ladislav Sutnar, whose life and work clearly bears the lines of pedagogical work (either through working at art schools in the Czech Republic and the USA, or through theoretical articles and books), it is difficult to find a field of fine art in which he did not succeed and at the same time did not open new horizons. It is no wonder that during his life, he received countless awards. Out of all of them, let us mention only his successes from the period between the wars - for example, a silver medal for toy design at the International Art Exhibition in Paris in 1925, a gold medal for exhibitions at the International Exhibition in Barcelona in 1929 and the Milan Triennial in 1936, and the Grand Prix and fourteen gold medals for exhibitions, books and useful objects at the International Exhibition of Art and Technology in Modern Life in Paris in 1937. He was honoured posthumously as well – in October 1979, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Art Director’s Club in New York. In 2001, Sutnar was awarded a Czech national award by President Václav Havel for merits in the field of culture in memoriam.
The Return of Ladislav Sutnar
Despite his world fame, until recently only a few Pilsen residents knew Ladislav Sutnar. It was high time to return Ladislav Sutnar to his home town – and to return his birthplace, which bears his name, to Ladislav Sutnar. In 2011, the Return of Ladislav Sutnar project started.
2011 / Transformation of the former University Gallery into the Ladislav Sutnar Gallery was the first step in the project that is still ongoing.
18 October 2012 / Ladislav Sutnar was awarded in memoriam honorary citizenship of the city of Pilsen, for his worldwide significant contribution in the field of graphic design and visual communication and for his support of the Czechoslovak anti-Nazi and anti-communist resistance. In the wake of this, a bronze memorial plaque was unveiled at the house where Sutnar was born, Dominikánská Street 2, the author of which is FDA student Jakub Orava. As part of the programme of the ceremonial opening of the new building of our school, the Ladislav Sutnar Prize for exceptional figures of the world of art and design was awarded for the first time. The prize has been awarded annually since then. On the same day, at the Ladislav Sutnar Gallery, an exhibition of his poster creations called Paths of New Typography was launched. All these events were personally attended by Radoslav L. Sutnar and his wife Elaine.
26 March 2014 / Sutnar's timeless visions and principles of his work became the cornerstone of the development of our school, which on this day adopted its unique name – the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art.
5 November 2014 / The remains of Ladislav Sutnar and his wife Františka were ceremoniously laid in the grave of honour at the Central Cemetery in Pilsen.
7 March 2018 / Establishment of the SUTNAR - Radoslav and Elaine Sutnar Foundation. The Foundation's primary purpose is to care for the spiritual and artistic legacy of Ladislav Sutnar. The name of the foundation recalls the merit of Radoslav and Elaine Sutnar, who for decades cared for the legacy of Ladislav Sutnar and supported the rehabilitation and development of his legacy in the Czech Republic.
Since 2018 / The extensive collection of Sutnar's paintings and other materials, which the faculty has acquired in recent years thanks to the active support of Radoslav L. Sutnar, has been sponsored by the Ladislav Sutnar Archive. In the collection, which is the most extensive of its kind in Europe, we will find Sutnar’s paintings, graphics, as well as materials obtained from the Archives of American Art in Washington - unique letters, photographs, sketch items, personal notes, books, and other archival material from the famous artist's estate.
The Ladislav Sutnar's Return project includes, in addition to these important milestones, publication of a number of books and organisation of many national and international exhibitions focused on the work of this all-round artist, as well as the work of a new generation of artists who were inspired by Sutnar and his work and visions.