Ivan Theimer

* 1944

  • "I got lucky. Three months before it I received a permit from the artists' association in Olomouc to obtain a passport. It was at the police station, I hadn't had it. I wanted to go see an exhibition of Henri Matisse in Paris and to visit Nice. They organized a tour with designers from Olomouc. Then the invasion took place but I already had my passport. I took the train to Prague - the French embassy opened up at 7 a.m. All of us who slept over received stamps. Then I went to Munich. But at the railway stations someone told us: 'Don't go there. Sometimes, the Russian soldiers board the train, confiscate your passports and turn the train back to Prague.' There were ten or twelve of us on the train. Because of the people who warned me that there was no point in bringing a suitcase, I only had a tiny bag. I had a toothbrush and Kafka's Amerika. We got to the border, the Russians came and checked the whole train but didn't want to see our papers. They let the train go across the border where there were Czechoslovak soldiers who weren't on board with the Russians. It wasn't manipulated yet. A major and a policeman came over, asking for passports. They looked up and could see that I only had the tiny bag. I was drenched in sweat. Then the train drove on and we got across the German border. There Americans and Germans handed us coke through the window."

  • "I got to know people such as Marcel Zerbib. He had the first surrealist gallery after WW II., located on the Saint-Germain boulevard by Diderot's statue. He was friends with Manree (?), having a life-long contact for all his photos. His brother had a tiny gallery in Rue des Beaux Arts. He came there, inviting his brother, Claude Bernard, Albert Lebel - all sons of renowned gallery owners. And he said: 'Please, make an exhibition of Theimer. It's impossible - buy his paintings!' But nobody did. So he said: 'I'm buying fifteen of them!' They were wondering why this elderly Marcel who had no longer owned a gallery but still had collections - Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, all of the surrealists - did that. Then they realized. His brother Armand Zerbib organized my first exhibition in 1971. All of the exhibitions I had at his gallery turned out well. This is how it started. Certain collectors were interested, I established links to Lyon, Geneva and to Italy."

  • "In Paris I met an elderly Italian refugee, Colomarini. He had an old studio where they produced classical works. There were two tents made of jute sacks and behind them there were two Russians who used axes to cut statues - such as Brancusi. It was an incredible atmosphere, seeing that each of us refugees was completely different. Suddenly, they appeared in Colomarini's studio, trying to escape the outer world more than I did. And really, they built a shack out of blankets, and carved out Brancusi. It was interesting for me to grasp that I'd gotten to a very different face of 1968."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 19.10.2016

    duration: 01:33:00
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I was lucky to be born in Olomouc

Ivan Theimer, 2016
Ivan Theimer, 2016
photo: Archiv Post Bellum

Ivan Theimer was born on 18 September 1944 in Olomouc. His family supported the development of Ivan’s talent in arts. His mum loved the opera, his relatives played in the orchestra and his grandma paid for his art courses. From 1959 till 1963 he studied at a school of decorative arts in Uherské Hradiště. However, due to his family background he wasn’t subsequently admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Following the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact armies, in September 1968 he decided to move to France. He eventually managed to obtain a scholarship enabling him to study at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris. After graduation he progressed via small exhibitions and contracts towards bigger projects. By the 1980s he had done a number of successful exhibitions and public installations in several European countries. After the 1989 revolution he began visiting Czechoslovakia regularly. Here, he created among othe things Comenius’ memorial in Uherský Brod or Arion’s fountain in Olomouc along with a turtle cast for children. He resides in Paris and Tuscany, and his works are regularly displayed in Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland.