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Karel Beneš (1932) - Biography

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I never painted any stars or Communist posters

Graphic artist, painter, and illustrator Karel Beneš was born in Vlčnov on 1 May 1932. During the war he watched German soldiers train near his native village, and later as a grammar school student in Uherský Brod he saw Allied planes fly over Germany. He waited out the last nights of the war in the cellar with his family, he saw the Germans leave and be replaced by the liberating armies of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, led by Marshal Malinovsky. In 1947 he left the fourth year of grammar school to study glassworking at the Upper School of Art in Jablonec nad Nisou. However, he enjoyed drawing the most, and thanks to the support of his teachers he was given the opportunity to focus on drawing and prepare for entrance exams to the Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague. While studying he dedicated himself to the lithographic treatment of motives from his native Moravia, the traditional Vlčnov wedding and Ride of Kings; he completed his studies with illustrations to military songs. The 1980s saw him achieve worldwide fame with his bookplates, which he had been introduced to by graphic artist and "horse painter" Emil Kotrba. He has created more than 500 ex libris. He was a prolific book illustrator; he received a Gold Ribbon (Zlatá stuha; an award for young readers' books) in 1996 for his work on Josef Václav Sládek's book Zlaté slunce, bílý den (Golden Sun, White Day). He lives in Prague with his wife, painter Daniela Benešová-Hahnová. They frequently exhibit together and they have a son and daughter.

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