* 26. 2. 1940 † 27. 1. 2013
Oldřich Kulhánek was born on the 26th of February 1940, in Prague. From 1958 to 1964 he studied at the Prague Academy of Applied Arts, in the studio of Professor Karel Svolinský. The years of his apprenticeship there, provided the foundation and inspiration of his artistic career.
In 1971 he was arrested by the StB (the Czechoslovak Secret Police) and was accused that with his prints of 1968–1971, he had disgraced the representatives of the communist countries (in particular his images of the face of Stalin).
This Kafka-esque situation was to continue until 1972 and on the 5th of July 1973, he was tried in court. At this farce, like in a scene out of the writer Hašek’s "Good Soldier Schweik", eleven of his prints were sentenced by the judge to be destroyed, i.e. burnt. However the "gentlemen" of the court, did no such thing, and kept the prints for themselves – which was tantamount to government sanctioned theft. Kulhánek later commented “I realised that one’s situation in life, even if a tragic one, never lacks a touch of humour – though, usually very black humour!”
Despite the toughness of the regime, thanks to a number of friends in the United States, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria and France, he did not lose contact with the European and world art scene, during these his darkest years. After the collapse of the communist dictatorship, in 1989, the situation in Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic changed irrevocably; artists (and the nation at large) were finally free to express themselves and travel. Following the changes he was later invited to give a series of workshops at various universities in the United States as a visiting professor (such as the University of Houston – Clear Lake, Texas, the Art Center – New Smyrna Beach, Florida).
In addition to his art and teaching, one of his many accomplishments is that he created the designs of the new Czech Banknotes, which was a commission that came with a great deal of prestige. He has also become one of the principal designers of Czech stamps, which has included designing a stamp of the present President of the Czech Republic: Mr. Václav Klaus, among other Czech personalities.
Oldřich Kulhánek, presently lives and works in Prague, and is the President of the Hollar Foundation.