11. 2. 1905 Kopřivnice – 1. 7. 1981 Praha
The name of the world famous painter and illustrator Zdeněk Burian will be always connected with neverending human desire for knowledge. Mysterious cave Šipka, a former dwelling of Neanderthal man and also a Burians playground, inspired him in his later work. He closely collaborate with paleontologists to reconstruct fossil plant, animals and human beings. Soon his works became famous not only in the Czech Republic and today you can find his paintings, describing the life in primeval period, in many galleries arround the world. More than 10 000 realistic book and magazine illustrations still fascinate children and adults.
Some paintings tell us about Burians love to all people, meanwhile others warn against the misuse of human inventions or against the dangers of wars. His paintings contain much of topical interest.
He spend his childhood partly in his hometown and partly in nearby Štramberk, a town which in the early twentieth century lived a very intense artistic life. The exhibitions in the town had a considerable influence on Zdeněk´s awakening artistic soul. When the painter J. Goth saw some examples of Burian´s work in Prague, he immediately recommended him to apply to the renowned Prague Academy of Art. His studies, however, brought hard times for Zdeněk. Without the support of his parents he twice almost died of hunger and exhaustion, and he only survived thanks to his incredible determination and strength of will, which he modelled on the heroes of adventure books. Just like his heroes, he won back his own life: "I would never have survived if I had not had lessons from the very best teachers: Jack London, Thompson Seton, Rudyard Kipling, Zane Grey and Rex Beach. They taught me that the most important qualities in life are determination, self-denial and discipline."
From this time right until his death, Burian stayed faithful to the genre of adventure writing and created wonderful works of art that never cease to amaze us with their suggestive perfection. He illustrated his first book, The Adventures of David Balfour by Robert Louis Stevenson, when he was sixteen, and his last illustrations were published over sixty years later. During the intervening years he became - as if without any effort - one of the most famous painters of prehistoric scenes in the second half of the twentieth century.
His art is reminiscent of an unending call for the original purity of life, the nobility of the human soul and respect for the perfect order of existence. Many people would say that he did not really fit in today´s world, and they may well be right. Because Zdeněk Burian belonged to one of the next worlds. He was a poet with his brush, a pilgrim with a guitar and a song on his lips. He loved autumn, and New Zealand. Mountains, forests and the fresh, clean air. Horses and dogs. And good people too.
The extent of his work is incredible. He created thousands of drawings, oils, gouaches, watercolours, pastels and distempers. He illustrated over five hundred books, painted hundreds of book covers and illustrations for magazines. His work covers a huge range of subjects, from ethnography to geography, paleontology and anthropology. He both illustrated children´s books and painted remarkable sets of portraits of pictures with various themes, most of which ar unknown today, like his illustrations for unpublished books. He mastered a range of artistic techniques, and reached absolute perfection in his gouache illustrations and drawings in white ink on black.
Zdeněk Burian - a name which has been lovingly repeated by thousands of admirers of the Romantic for over seventy years. An outstanding painter of the prehistoric world, an unforgettable illustrator of adventure stories, a hiker and traveller in both body and soul, a faithful playmate in our childhood, a silent companion in adolescence, and a true friend in adulthood. He has never betrayed those who are close to him.
Muzeum Zdeňka Buriana (Museum of Zdeněk Burian)
An exhibition of renowned painter of primeval ages and adventures Zdeněk Burian, who passed part of his life in Štramberk, was originally opened in 1992 below the Square, since 2011 is in the baroque taproom house no. 31. The museum is visited by Burians admirers from all corners of the world.