Václav Chad
One of the Legends of Czech Modern Art
Ludvík Ševeček

The painter Václav Chad was born on September 8, 1923 in Břeclav. However, his family soon moved to Otrokovice. After finishing fifth grade at a secondary school in Uherské Hradiště and successfully passing demanding entrance exams, he was admitted to a recently established Baťa company school in Zlín (1939), from which he graduated in 1944. He then started working as a graphic designer at the promotional department of the Bata Works and in October of the same year joined the anti-fascist resistance, a decision which later proved fateful to him. Shortly before the end of the war, on February 24, 1945, after a sudden Gestapo raid on the company's boarding house where he was staying, he was shot dead while trying to run away just a few meters away from the School of Art and from the Tomáš Baťa Memorial. Today, the place of Chad's demise is still marked by an inconspicuous portrait memorial, created immediately after the war (in 1946) by the sculptor Miloš Axman, one of his fellow students at the School of Art. In its time, the School of Art itself represented an unique art school, showing the characteristic features of all Baťa facilities and paying considerable attention to the social welfare of its students throughout their studies, their education in self-reliance and success in practical life. The main objective of the school was to educate designers for the needs of the company; however, its reach eventually considerably exceeded the original intent of its founders. This was also caused by the fact that the architect František Kadlec, creator of the school’s statutes and curriculum, modelled its core concept of study on that of the Bauhaus, which was closed down in 1933 after Hitler came to power. And so it happened that the Zlín school, "undercover", in a completely different historical context and under difficult social conditions, successfully repeated and updated the legacy of Bauhaus during the Nazi occupation of the country (1939-1945). Although the school was established on the eve of World War II and its expansion was limited by the difficult conditions of the Protectorate, it soon matured into a unique institution, which remained unchanged until the twist in political climate after 1945.