The genius of Czech designer Jožka Baruch never ceases to amaze us, as you can tell from our previous post about him, here. Recently, while scouring Prague for rare woodwork pieces to add to our studio collection, we had a remarkable chance encounter with no other than Baruch’s granddaughter, or as she calls him, Josef.
As fate would have it, she was at a store we happen to pop into, and when we spoke of our fascination with Baruch’s work, Johana humbly introduced herself and was truly touched by our excitement to meet her and talk about our appreciation for her grandfather.
This is how we learned firsthand that these charming little wooden toys were created by Baruch as woodwork exercises in the 1920s and ’30s, intended to demonstrate techniques and creative possibilities to his students. Actually, she explained, he had made the toys for his daughter, her mother, who was the original recipient of these seemingly unassuming yet highly imaginative pieces.
Baruch’s magnificent body of work spans illustration, print, painting, literary works, tapestries, woodcarving, posters, and – what we were after, toys. For us, these delightful playthings that he crafted using mundane materials and a simple rearrangement of shapes, represent Baruch’s elevated level of playfulness and his inquisitive ability to engage a child in mind, muscles, and sensibilities. After all, apart from literature and local folk customs (especially Moravian Wallachia), his main source of inspiration was the kingdom of childhood, which always seeped into all that he did.
“He created, painted, and carved small boxes, and lathe-turned and polished jars, bowls, sculptures of idols and table statuettes, in which he used symbols of Radegast and Krakonoš, geometric ornaments and clear polychrome with finely detailed decorations. His toy designs present a varied array of lathe-turned figures, human and animals, which do not lack the humorous and caricaturing characteristics of sculpturally-understood small masses,” writes art historian Alena Podzemná about Jožka Baruch in the artist book that Johana published about her grandfather with the hope to raise awareness to his creations once more.
We are honored to now own and showcase original replicas of these toys in our Château Cramirat collection, and even more so, we are privileged to have met Baruch’s granddaughter and spend precious moments with her appreciating the legacy of hope and meaning that her grandfather molded into these gracious, fun-filled, masterpiece toys.
The images are provided by Johana, depicting the original toys and designs.