Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on February 26, 1940, Oldrich Kulhanek passed away January 26, 2013, only a month before his 73rd birthday. He was a 1964 graduate of the Prague Academy of Applied Arts from the atelier of Professor Karol Svolinsky. Prominent amongst artistic dissidents in the Communist Era, he was arrested by the State Security Police in 1971 and charged with “making images that defamed a fraternal Soviet State.” In his artwork, he had slandered Josef Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev and Mao Zedong. After a brief imprisonment, he was banned from exhibiting in his home country, but had an increasing artistic presence in Western Europe and America. The transcripts of his secret police interrogations became celebrated in a documentary done for Czech National Television shortly after the fall of Communism.
He was a phoenix reborn in the post-Communist Czech era. Perhaps the most visible artists in the Czech Republic, he was the designer of all currency now in circulation in his country, President of the State Jury of Postage Stamp Design, and President of the foundation of Hollar, the Society of Czech Graphic Artists. He was renowned for his extraordinary command of the human figure. In his hands, the figure became the outer manifestation through which the viewer could, themselves, experience the inner struggles of his subjects.