Shortly after my arrival
my friend has taken me to an almost hidden museum of one of the best known
and respected Slovak artist-potter and maker o ceramics, Ferdis Kostka
located in Stupava. Stupava is a small town located about 11 miles North
of Bratislava. If it wasnít for my friend, I am sure I wouldn't find
it my self. The little sign in the window had informed us that the museum
is closed due to a sickness. We walked to the courtyard through the main
entrance of a fairly new looking house. We were told that the museum is
closed. After a brief explanation of my lack of time for return visit we
were allowed to see the exhibit with the help of the great grand son, an
eight year old Maros Kostka and were given valuable lecture. Maros is
continuing in the tradition of the Kostka family and makes ceramics too.
The museum is located two restored older houses in the court yard, one of
them has his studio that also houses an original wood burning kiln. In the
other house is a display of his work. The fairly new looking house, was
built by Ferdis Kostka in 1951, and he lived in it for only 10 days
before his death at age 73 after loosing his battle with heart asthma and
Ferdis Kostka was a
descendant of an old potterís family in Stupava that continued in the
tradition established in many localities in Slovakia specializing in
pottery and earthenware production and developed the folk faience into
applied, decorative and figural ceramic production of high craftsmanship
and artistic value. Ferdis Kostka drew on the family's pottery
tradition-work of his grand-father Jan Kostka senior and his brother Jan.
In the years' 1896-1913 he worked in the shop of his brother and after
his departure for Marianka, near by, Ferdis Kostka took over the shop.
His initial production included utility kitchen items. He later on
combined ancient Haban elements with the artistic tradition of his
familyís workshop, imitating and varying inherited patterns and old
His life, way of thinking
and actions, were deeply affected by the World War I, which was an
important landmark in his creations. Experience from the prisoner's camp
and work in ironworks were valuable sources of inspiration an intensified
his feelings towards his people and the nation.
artistic development started however only after the World War I with the
decline of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. That period in Slovakia was
characterized by an increased attention devoted to the preservation of
artistic monuments, folk culture and art. This was the time at which Ferdis
Kostka found a new content and form of folk art. In addition to applied
and decorative ceramics, he developed his talent especially in the
original production of faience sculptures and compositions which-in a
genuine folk realistic fashion-represented folk characters and scenes from
life, as well as the world of plain people.
Work and social motives
make up an extensive and special part of his ceramic creations that
depicts numerous characters from popular settings. He aptly conveyed their
temperament, liking and weaknesses, stressing their psychological
characteristics. He thus created a number of original, realistic,
affection-inspiring figures and figural compositions such as: At the
Spinning-Wheel, The Hunt, The Farmer, The peasant and a Tramp, An
unemployed clarinet player, Lunch in the field and many more. Each variant
of the represented character was an original work. Kostka made each new
version of the original with new features, thus expressing endlessly
His large series of
figural sculptures, each of them constituting one cycle consisting of
several figural compositions with single theme, such as The Potter's
Work, Musicians of Stupava, Life of a Farmer, Life of a Wine grower,
Wood-cutters, are of high artistic value with deep message and expression.
Applied and decorative
works and especially small figural compositions of Ferdis Kostka have
special and significant place in the framework of the Slovak art of
ceramics in general. Kostka's ceramic art fulfilled an important
national mission as it honored simple folk and their work.
creation is a valuable example of true folk art and as such entered into
the treasury of Slovak national art.
Following the viewing of
the museum we were invited to the fairly new looking house and met Mrs.
Magda Koska, the daughter of Ferdis Kostka and were able to view her
personal collection of additional works by her late father, including some
of the ceramic tiles and his last work a plate made for the peace
celebration at Devinís castle on July 6, 1951.
TO FOLK ARTISTS
Bibliography: Ferdis Kostka, SFVU Pressfoto, Bratislava 1982 by: Pavol Michalides
Published in the Slovak
Heritage Live newsletter Volume 2, No. 4, Winter 1997
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1997
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced,
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the express written permission of Vladimir
Linder. All rights reserved.