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Josef Bartuška (1898, Rozovy – 1963, Rudolfov) was a Czech poet and visual artist. He was a painter, photographer, graphic artist and created theatre and film librettos, worked as a set designer and musician.
After graduating from a teaching institute in 1917, he worked as a teacher in several cities. In 1942, he became the headteacher at the primary school in Rudolfov, where he worked until his retirement in 1959.
Starting in the early 1920s, Bartuška published poems in newspapers and magazines Pramen, Niva, Republikán, Apollon, Kormidlo, Archa, Cesta, Pramen, Host, Jih, Tvar, Národní listy. He also self-published smaller collections of poems. Devětsil and the interwar avant-garde inspired his poetic and artistic work.
He founded the Kontakt group in 1930 in České Budějovice. Besides him, the group included Oldřich Nouza, J. Kotrlý, Richard Lander and Miroslav Haller. In 1931, he and Oldřich Nouza published the Poesie imaginerniho prostoru (linocuts).
Josef Bartuška was the founder of the Linie group in České Budějovice from 1931 to 1938. The group significantly contributed to avant-garde photography, collage and author’s books, and not just in the domestic context. They published a magazine under the same name until June 1938. The group operated as a cooperative of twelve members who contributed to many arts and educational projects and created several publications of a limited print run. Linie members created photography, visual and written poems, art-object original books, paintings and drawings, and engaged in writing for film, theatre, and radio. The members included Bartuška, Oldřich Nouza, Zdeněk Stolbenko, Jaroslav Anděl, Arno Pařík, Emil Pitter, Ada Novák, Richard Lander, Karel Valter, Ada Novak, Jiří Linhart. The group also held a Fotolinie section.
Bartuška’s books of poems include Infinitivy (výkřiky, vůně, šelesty, resonance) (1929), Podzim (1936), and the leaflet Kornout (1931). His inspiration with the Devětsil is also visible in his work in theatre, dance, film and radio. In painting, his influences were Toyen and Jindřich Štyrský.
One of his notable photography series is Shadow play started in the 1930s, focusing on motifs that cast a shadow. Bartuška also created photograms and photographic collages.