František Bílek built his studio villa in the Prague Hradčany Disctrict 1910 and 1911 according to his own plans and design. Bílek was mainly a sculptor and graphic artist, but his religious approach to art gradually steered him towards the need to create complex environments in which his works would find multi-layered function and roles, thus fulfilling Bílekʼs vision of spiritualizing human life. His architecture was mainly idea-motivated.
According to Bílek (1872–1941), his Prague villa was supposed to express “life as a field full of ripe ears, providing everyday nourishment for the brothers. Many ears tied into sheaves – columns. Some of the columns unfinished, as they do not bear anything”. The segmented layout of the building can be perceived as the imprint of a scythe harvesting grain. Also striking is the shape of the columns, reminiscent of the architecture of ancient Egypt. The naked bricks and unpolished stones draw the edifice closer to nature and to man’s labor. Dominating the irregular interiors is the artist’s studio, with its high ceilings, forming the house’s natural working and spiritual center. Since 1963, the Villa Bílek located in the Hradčany district is managed by the Prague City Gallery. In addition to its original furniture, the newly opened permanent exhibition situated in the villa presents a selection of Bílek’s works from his most important creative period.
In June 2022, on the 150th anniversary of František Bílek’s birth, the Villa Bílek reopened to the public. The aim of the new permanent exhibition was to remove disruptive and non-original elements and to offer a more sensitive approach to the interiors. These now appear more homely, and the artist’s works are installed there with more consideration to their spiritual essence. Compared to the sculptor’s house in Chýnov, where mostly later works and works with Hussite themes can be seen, the exhibition in the Prague villa presents mainly early works charged with intense mysticism.
Exalted monumental sculptures and figurative compositions characterized by organic forms, pronounced verticalizing silhouettes and pathetic gestures are exhibited in what used to be the artist’s spacious studio. It is dominated by the darkly stained sculptures Astonishment (1907), Moses (1904) and by the colossal design for Prague’s Jan Hus monument (1901). Most impressive are Bílek’s works made of wood – a material that suited his nature the most. Also remarkable are the artist’s graphic and ceramic creations complementing the sculptures placed in the villa’s dining room, Bílek’s study and other rooms, featuring some of the artist’s early works, monument designs and portraits, organized thematically. The largest room on the house’s first floor is dedicated to the striking model of Bílek’s Žižka Monument (1912–1925).