Gertruda Gruberová-Goepfertová

* 1924  †︎ 2014

  • "Jan Čep arrived to Kyjov to see our religion teacher. The teacher showed him some of my contributions to these magazines. Jan Čep liked them a lot, and he said he wanted to "see the girl." The teacher invited me, to meet him and that’s how I got to know him (Čep). We became true friends with him and began writing letters to each other. He recommended me to Zahradníček in Brno. I sent my article to Zahradníček, and he published it."

  • "My husband kept insisting: ´We have to do something. You’ll get some scholarship to go abroad, and you´ll leave the country, and I will follow you…´ We used to address each other formally: ´You shall be out of the country by that time, and I shall come to you.´ He told me what he wanted me to do: ´Go to the Ministry of Industry and get a scholarship for the summer vacation!´ I was making excuses at first, but I eventually did go there. I was walking though the hallways of the ministry building, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to leave, because my husband said: ´If things turn badly here, you’ll stay there, and I will get out, too.´ I made him promise me that if things weren’t so bad, I would go back home. And so there I was, wandering in the hallways, and I ran into this man, who had given me that award for the matchboxes. I had been a little girl then. He asked me: ´Who are you looking for?´ I answered: ´I need a scholarship to go to Switzerland in summer.´ He said: ´Come with me then, I’ll arrange it for you.´ And he really did. That was a time when they were not allowing anyone to travel out of the country, especially if they were not Party members. But he really did it, and I received a scholarship to do a two-month internship in the printing-shop Orell Füssli in Zurich."

  • "While I was attending the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, I left the studio of professor Tichý, because the atmosphere there was unbearable from the very beginning. Those guys were crazy about communism, and they even attended classes on communism. They would always pack their stuff before noon and leave." Interviewer: "For some lectures on Marxism?" – "Yes, there were some courses like that, I don't remember it anymore. Some were even aggressive to me. Sometimes I would go to church in the morning before classes, and they were attacking me. I didn't keep my faith in secret, but they were equally open with their dislike for my religion."

  • "Believe it or not, but I was serious about it when I was already five years old. When somebody asked me: ´Little girl, what would you like to do when you grow up? Where would you like to work?´ I would think: ´What a stupid question, don´t you know that I´m a painter?!´ Really, I truly meant it. And I began writing quite early, too. While I was in the elementary, I was writing short articles for the Národní Politika newspaper. There was a special supplement for children and families, and I was writing some short pieces for this section. I remember one of my articles titled Gulls on the Vltava River, which I wrote when I was in the third or fourth grade."

  • "I learned that foreigners were invited to introduce themselves in the professor’s studio and he would accept them without an exam. A French student would have to pass an exam, but the professor was willing to accept me because I was a foreigner. I entered the building and asked where the studios were. I walked up the stairs and there was an old man sitting behind a desk in front of the studio, he was a hall porter. There were two doors leading to two studios on that floor, and this man was sitting there with a book, which you needed to sign when you came to the studio. I asked him: ´When will the professor come?´ He said. ´You will have to wait here, he is not here yet.´ The professor wasn't there yet, and so I waited. I had a map with me, my drawings and various prints from the print-shop and many drawings which I had made during lunch breaks in Zurich. I was enthusiastic about Zurich, it’s an amazing place. I was holding the folder with my drawings and waiting. Suddenly, an elegant gentleman entered the studio, and I stated after him. I told him I would like to become his pupil, and he seemed angry, because he already knew it all. All those wealthy American girls were knocking on his door. As soon as he opened the door, he ordered me: ´Open the folder!´,right there on the floor behind the door. I began pulling my drawings out, and he was watching me. "Well, continue, show me some more.´ Then he said: ´OK, I will accept you!´ ,and he signed some document for me. I ran with the paper to the secretary’s office to tell them that this gentleman had accepted me, and they said: ´Oh, so you will be studying under the director.´"

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    Rosenheim, 31.03.2009

    duration: 01:14:39
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“Get a scholarship to go abroad, get out of the country, and I will follow you there.”

Gertruda Gruberová-Goepfertová
Gertruda Gruberová-Goepfertová

Painter and writer Gertruda Gruberová-Goepfertová was born in 1924 in Janštýn in the Vysočina region. As a child, she lived in many places because her father frequently moved for work. She lived in Hudcov, in the Teplice region, Prague, and then eventually Kyjov. Even when she was young, she showed a talent for the arts, especially for painting and writing. She published her writings in various magazines, such as Students’ magazine, Jitro, Práce, and Akord. After she completed grammar school, she was sent into forced labor. During the war, she met writers Jan Čep and Jan Zahradníček and in 1944, married Dr. Leo Gruber. After the war, she began studying at the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague, where she studied at the studio of Professor František Tichý. Most of her classmates at the time leaned towards Communism. So, she went to the studio of Professor Antonín Strnadel. She and her husband did not like the political situation at the time and thought about emigrating. After February 1948, she went to a summer internship in a printing shop in Zurich. Later, she moved to Paris, where she studied at the arts academy, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Her husband eventually moved to Paris as well. After three or four years of living in Paris, they moved to Munich, Germany where her husband got a job at Radio Free Europe. While in Germany, she continued to paint and write. She died in Rosenheim in southern Bavaria on the 30th of July, 2014.