Jiří Trnka

One of the internationally acclaimed illustrators and founders of Czech animated film

Jiří Trnka was one of those exceptional artists who, thanks to their all-round talent, not only significantly influenced a number of fields, but were able to successfully combine them in their work. Although his artistic range was considerably wider, his work in the field of illustration and animated film was crucial. At the time of the war, he already participated in the creation of a new type of illustration, which fully developed in the 1950s and 1960s. After the war, he became one of the founders of the Czech school of animation and thus created a counterpoint to the then dominant Disney approach.

He used various techniques and approaches with overlaps into other fields of art. In illustration he used pen-and-ink drawing, pastel, watercolour, gouache, tempera, collage, scraping and combined techniques, within which he gradually moved from drawing to painting with emphasis on colour. He also used different approaches in composition and was innovative in introducing spatial elements into book design.

As an animator, he worked with cartoon, paper, hand puppet and especially puppet film techniques, where he applied many years of experience with puppet theater. With the film Špalíček (The Czech Year), which reflects folk traditions, he proved that even in this medium artistically challenging images can be created using the specifics of montage, camera work and editing. By connecting all its components, from the artistic stylization of the puppets to the decorations and musical components, he created a stylistically and compositionally unified film that, with some exceptions, did not need any spoken word.

The importance of Jiří Trnka's work is confirmed by about fifty important awards: he was the first Czech artist to receive the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award for lifetime achievement in illustration (1968), he received the Gold Medal at the IFF in Bergamo – an award for a creator who contributed to the development of world cinema with their comprehensive work in the field of puppet films (1961), Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize (1946, Zvířátka a Petrovští / Town Musicians of Bremen), Gold Medal for the best puppet film at the Venice IFF (1948, Špalíček / The Czech Year), Méliès Award for the best animated film (1948, Špalíček / The Czech Year; 1950, Císařův slavík / The Emperor's Nightingale; 1952, Staré pověsti České / Old Czech Legends), Special Prize of the Cannes Film Festival (1959, Sen noci svatojánské / A Midsummer Night's Dream), Special Jury Prize at the International Animated Film Festival (1965, Ruka / The Hand) and others.

Jiří Trnka International Symposium

The Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art proudly follows and honours Trnka´s artistic legacy, especially in the field of illustration and animated film. That is why it established an international art symposium in 2021 which, with the permission of the artist´s family, bears the name of Jiří Trnka.

Jiří Trnka International Symposium 2022: All the Colours of Fairy Tales

25 - 27 October, 2022

The second edition of the international symposium on illustration and animated art offered a series of lectures and workshops for art students and the professional public led by theoreticians and artists from around the world.

At the same time, the public could visit five accompanying exhibitions taking place at galleries and instituions around Pilsen. An extensive exhibition of illustrations of folk, ethnic and author´s fairy tales took place at the Great Synagogue in Pilsen, presenting not only student works but above all illustrations created by the symposium guests. More student works were presented at the Puppet Museum, the Incubator Gallery and the Education and Research Library of the Pilsen Region. The presentation of the Jiří Trnka Award laureates took place at the Ladislav Sutnar Gallery. 

The symposium included the very first award ceremony of the Jiří Trnka Award for extraordinary artistic and theoretical contribution in the field of illustration and animation. Two new publications were introduced during the event - Inner Gardens, the proceedings to the Jiří Trnka International Symposium 2021, and a unique bibliophile edition of the book Two legends of the Grail with Jiří Trnka´s illustrations. The medieval stories are retold by Czech author and poet Radek Malý, graphic design is by Sutnar Faculty´s student Vojtěch Liebl. Jiří Trnka´s son, artist Jan Trnka, was a special guest of the event.

Jiřího Trnka Award laureates / 2022 

Iku Dekune, illustrator / Japan
André Letria, illustrator / Portugal
Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava / Slovakia

The Jiří Trnka International Symposium welcomed illustrators, animators and theoreticians from the Czech Republic, Japan, Portugal, Hungary, Colombia and Slovakia. The symposium participants had the possibility to attend lectures and presentations of local and visiting lecturers, watch animated films, take part in inspiring meetings with renowned artists and theoreticians and see presentations of Sutnar Faculty graduates and students. 

Guests and lecturers  

Theoreticians: Radim Kopáč, Jana Čeňková, Michaela Mertová, Markéta Formanová, Andrea Sloupová, Fanuel Hanán Díaz (Colombia), Emese Révész (Hungary)

Institution: Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (Slovakia)

Artists: Iku Dekune (Japan), Aneta Holasová, Renáta Fučíková, André Letria (Portugal), Filip Pošivač, Jindra Čapek

The Jiří Trnka International Symposium 2022 took place with financial support of the City of Pilsen.

Jiří Trnka International Symposium 2021: Inner Gardens

4  – 7 October, 2021

Trnka’s oeuvre in general, and his book Zahrada (“Garden”) in particular, have served as the inspiration for the pilot edition of the international symposium on illustration and animation, which was organized at the Sutnar Faculty in October 2021 and was very well received.

It was the first edition of a symposium for professional artists, theoreticians and students, which will take place on a regular basis in future. Its aim is to commemorate the strong central European tradition in these fields of visual art and to contribute to their development through discussions, lectures, presentations of works created by students and professionals, and through workshops held by visual artists from the Czech Republic and other countries.

The symposium’s comprehensive programme included a series of lectures and presentations by Czech and international artists and theoreticians, exhibitions of works created by visiting artists and students of the Faculty, presentations of student projects as well as visits to places linked with the life and work of Jiří Trnka. The opportunity of direct contact and intensive cooperation with the visiting artists during the workshops is of great benefit to the students.

Jiří Trnka International Symposium 2021 hosted the following illustrators, animators and theoreticians from the Czech Republic, Colombia and Italy:

Eva Bartošová, Veronika Bílková, Eliška Děcká, Fanuel Hanán Díaz (Colombia – online lecture), Vojtěch Domlátil, Renáta Fučíková, Marco Ieie (Italy – presentation and workshop), Kristýna Klaban Gregorová, Marie Kohoutová, Radek Malý, Tereza Marianová, Andrea Sloupová, Tereza Ščerbová, Jan Šrámek, Andrea Tachezy.

The symposium was held under the auspices of the Mayor of the City of Pilsen.


JTIS / Documents