Black Madonna House
On the site of where this building stands today there were originally two imperial buildings. Vinohrady businessman Frantisek Josef Herbst had this department store erected at a time when he had a significant influence on Prague City Council and on the opinions of the Old Prague Association, a citizens' initiative that arose out of opposition to the demolition of the former Jewish ghetto.
At the beginning of the 1920's the Association's modern code of conservation of historical monuments according to Alois Riegl and Max Dvorak. The requirement for the new building to be in harmony with its historical surroundings was connected with the depreciation of historicism and a preference for architectonic expression of the day.
Josef Gocar, one of the founders of Czech Cubist architecture, was commissioned to design the department store project. The building was his first big undertaking. Gocar used the progressive steel frame of the Chicago School then took further inspiration from the Samaritaine Shopping Centre in Paris. It was completed in July 1912 and is now home to the Czech Museum of Cubism.
Czech Cubist architecture
Czech Cubist architecture represents one of Czech culture's unique contributions to the art world. In other words, architectonic Cubism was not developed anywhere else. Though expressively formed of surfaces that do not meet at right angles, Cubist buildings are not derivatives of Cubist paintings; rather, they are parallel companions. Czech Cubist architecture evolved of its own theory and strove to settle the conflict between the dynamic process of artistic creation and its static result, the building.