Exhibit | January 6, 2014

Pop-ups From Prague: A Centennial Celebration of Kubašta at the Grolier Club


Pop go the pop-up books in a lively public exhibition at the Grolier Club drawn from the collection of Ellen G. K. Rubin.  On view from January 23 thorough March 15, 2014 in the second floor Members’ Gallery, the exhibition showcases the full range of artwork by the major Czech paper engineer, children’s book illustrator, and graphic designer Vojt?ch Kubašta (1914-1992).  It celebrates the centennial of Kubasta’s graphic artistry in paper, pencil and scissors.

Focusing on his creativity and diversity, the exhibition includes more than 100 objects that highlight Kubašta’s passion for Prague, Mozart, and children.  Woven throughout is the social and political climate in which he worked, first under the Nazi occupation and followed by Soviet domination.  The Prague Uprising of May 5-9, 1945 against the Germans is spotlighted in his lithographs and other works that he illustrated.  Working behind the Iron Curtain, Kubašta continued to illustrate books, advertisements, and ephemera.  One section of the exhibition is devoted to his non-pop up works which are relatively unknown.

Kubašta was extraordinarily prolific and paper engineered more pop-up books than one could imagine.  It was said of him, “He was born with a pencil in his hand.”  Trained as an architect,  Kubašta used a slant-cut that made his pop-ups extend beyond the edges of the page creating a more dynamic presentation.  Best known for his puppet theater-like pop-up books, Kubašta’s background in architecture and puppetry is also evident in his imaginative children’s books and advertising material, revealing the artist’s joie de vivre and sly wit.  

The creation of pop-up and movable books languished after World War I.  When an American entrepreneur, Wally Hunt, was unable to import Kubašta’s books in great quantity from behind the Iron Curtain, Mr. Hunt’s company began producing their own pop-up books.  Kubašta is credited with being the inspiration for the resurgence in this beloved book genre and continues to be an inspiration to a new generation of paper engineers working today.

Kubašta’s publications have been translated into 37 languages and over 10 million copies of his pop-ups were sold worldwide. This is only the second American exhibition of Kubašta’s works and the only one solely from Ms. Rubin’s collection.

Ms. Rubin has been collecting Kubašta material for over 25 years. Her collection includes original art, lithographs, childhood sketches, nativities, games and toys, and pop-up fairytales, advertisements, and travel souvenirs, among many other unique items. 

CATALOG: A full-color catalog of the exhibition with a biography of Kubašta is available through the Grolier Club and Oak Knoll Books. http://www.oakknoll.com


Collector’s Forum: Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 6-8 PM: 

Lecture by curator, Ellen G. K. Rubin, followed by a panel discussion with: 

  • Dagmar Kubaštová, Kubašta’s daughter 
  • Robert Sabuda, award-winning paper engineer 
  • Monika Brandup, Creative Director of Up With Paper

Curator-led tours of the exhibition: 

Wednesday, February 12, 5:30-7:30 PM 

Wednesday, February 26, 1-2 PM

Saturday, March 1, 2-4 PM