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Circus at the Printers. Czech avant-garde // Showcase exhibition in the display vault of the German Museum of Books and Writing // German National Library in Leipzig // 6 February to 11 August 2019

In the fledgling Czechoslovakian Republic too, the 1920s were shaped by an international atmosphere of change and possibility, something which inspired artists and architects as much as it did publishers. Together, they worked on creating artistically sophisticated ‘books for all the senses’ and making them accessible to a wide audience.

Alongside cinema and cabaret, the circus served them as an important source of inspiration. Their original ideas were not limited to book covers, but also included the title pages, the typesetting, typography, publisher information and a plethora of new designs in colophons.

Implementing these books posed a great challenge for printers: “I wished that [Czech artist and publicist Karel Teige] could have seen the book... being produced. He would have seen such a circus at the Obzina printers as has never before been witnessed anywhere in the world. The typesetter ran to and from every type case in the entire typesetting department in order to keep up with the instructions of his manager. And there is no shortage of type cases there!” (Arthur Novák, Czech critic and bibliophile).

Arranged according to the artistic techniques and formats that were chosen for the respective cover design – from lino cuts, visual poems and purely typographical solutions through to photos and photo montages – this exhibition contains library books and magazines featuring artistically sophisticated designs and showcasing the ideas of the avant-garde through a unique blend of local traditions and influences from throughout Europe.

An exhibition of the German Museum of Books and Writing and the Saxon State and University Library Dresden to celebrate the 2019 Czech Year of Culture, in collaboration with the Prague Museum of Czech Literature and the guest country of the Czech Republic – Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, the Moravian Library and the Leipzig Book Fair.

Guided curator’s tours will take place at 10:00 on 22 March 2019 and at 16:00 on 23 March 2019.

You are also welcome to book group tours (for four persons or more). Just send an e-mail to

Information and contact

Opening hours

Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays 10–18, Thursday 10–20,
closed Monday


Free admission


Last update: 05.02.2019

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Schriftbanner mit Deutscher Nationalbibliothek Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main