(*July 12, 1924, † October 30, 2011)
He was born in Holešovice. His father's glazier and framer's business and the nearby paper factory provided him with a lot of scraps of paper for drawing. After the opening of the zoo in Troja, he also had live models to choose from. He liked to accompany his father, who was often called to the zoo to glaze the terrariums and animal enclosures.
Jiří with his parents on the Hlávk bridge - 1932
Jiří with his parents on the Hlávk bridge - 1932
In September 1930, he entered the 1st grade in Jablonského street, and from the 5th grade he went to the seven-year school in Dušní on the right side of the Vltava. He began to get to know the hustle and bustle of the big city. He was attracted by all kinds of city attractions, Old Prague pilgrimages, and various museums. While visiting the Thimble Museum, he saw with his own eyes objects that he had read about in children's books. He found that the exhibits had a magical effect on him, and ethnic curiosities became his lifelong interest. He admired the work of the prominent entomologist Dr. Jan Obenberger, professor at Charles University and employee of the National Museum. He cooperated with the museum for decades, cooperating on various exhibitions - especially in the Náprstek Museum and for several years participating in the anthropological survey of the remains of important monarchs, carried out by Professor Emanuel Vlček.
Until 1962, he lived in an apartment building on the corner of Rajská and Plynární streets. Father Karel had a glass workshop in the yard. Jiří built his studio from it after the trade was closed in 1950. The house was demolished in 1973 and in its place stands the vestibule of metro station C - Nádraží Holešovice. Only a large tree, growing in front of the house, remained in its place.
II. WORLD WAR
The school in Dušní Street was taken over by the Nazis after the occupation, and Jiří completed his secondary school education in Malá Strana. He graduated under the Heydrich in 1942. He wanted to study natural sciences, but the universities were closed. There was an opportunity to study at the Secondary School of Graphics in Smíchov, where professors from UMPRUM and the Academy taught. His teachers were Ferdinand Rubeš and Svatopluk Klír. He received his first professional education in graphic techniques, photography and typography. He attended private lessons in drawing and painting, including nudes. For his later work for newspapers, his models were Vratislav Hugo Brunner, a painter and caricaturist with a perfect line of newspaper drawings, and Felix Jenewein, a painter, illustrator, famous for stained glass windows for churches. His paintings stood out with a strong contour line, reminiscent of lead bands in church windows. Their influences are evident in Winter's drawing.
Classmates at the Graphic School were Alena Ladová, Jitka Forejtová, Jaroslav Lukavský, Václav Sivko or Mikuláš Medek. Jiří was allowed to stay in "such a beautiful company" for only one school year. In August 1943 he received a call to start work; year 1924 was totally used in war production, specifically he was assigned to the aircraft factory Letov in Letňany. At the employment office, he negotiated a job in the castle garden in Troja. He became an assistant to the head gardener, with whom he gained admiration not only for his knowledge of nature, but also for his good communication with educated visitors to the castle in Czech and German. He maintained acquaintances with the professional staff of the National Museum, whom he knew from his student years and for whom he performed various services even during total deployment.
Jiří had in his collection old but functional weapons with which it was possible to join the resistance. He was arrested by the Gestapo in August 1944. The accusation of possession of weapons threatened the death penalty, in the end it meant "only" a six-year prison sentence for the young collector. However, it also affected the family. Jiří was taken to a prison in Bernau, Bavaria, where he remained until the camp was liberated by the Americans. He set off on foot to Prague with several fellow prisoners. The dramatic anabasis ended after several hundred kilometers of walking at the railway station in Volary and then at Prague's Main Railway Station. During May, the mother also returned from the Bavarian prison. The father of the Jewish faith died during interrogations at Pankrác. Most of the other relatives on my father's side perished in concentration camps.
Winter, like many others who were affected by the Nazi hell, coped with the traumas of the war and the fate of the Jews and did not resent life. His humorous work of the following years and his positive approach to all the problems that befell him in his life are proof.
THE POST-WAR YEARS
In the early years, Winter supported himself by occasional drawings or paintings for friends. Above all, fellow prisoners wished to have captured some of the situations they experienced or witnessed in the camp. The main source of income was his father's glassmaking business. In January 1946, he was accepted to study at the Faculty of Science at the Charles University. In October 1947, he signed up for shortened military service, which he completed in April 1948. Returning from the war meant once again the necessity of solving the existential question. Sometimes there was a possibility of some illustration for the newspaper, but the father's glass business had to financially secure the son and the widow, at least modestly. So there was no money left for university studies and Jiří never finished the faculty.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A "COMPANY" DOES NOT PRACTICE
Winter met Bedřich Kopecný in 1940 at an antiques auction. Bedřich was a carpet restorer in the Oriental Bazaar and an occasional journalist, contributing to the protectorate press. Bedřich, who was 11 years older, established a lifelong friendship with Jiří. After 1948, private business stopped thriving. Bedřich lost his job and Jiří, although he was a participant in the anti-fascist resistance and received an award for it, had to leave the glassworks and the shop. The idea to create a pair that will do cartoon humor became successful. Newspaper jokes were a sought-after item, and young creators were few and far between.
They materialized the idea in the soulful days of 1949. On the label of the notebook, where both creators of cartoon jokes began to write down their creations, it is written: "Neprakta zal. 31.X. - 1.XI.49". Kopecný started to write the first notebook of records, and all the created drawings were recorded by Winter; the last entry is under the number 28,560 from 1999 (Winter's work did not end there, he just did not record the other pictures).
The oft-cited legend about the birth of the name Neprakta according to the "midnight" pattern of Masna, Obuna or Mototechna was probably invented after the fact. It follows from Bedřich's inheritance that similar names were created before "Vítězný february" and that he liked this form. On September 20, 1941, Černá kombiné written by Kopecný was published in Pražské listy under the Bpk label, where he writes about Viktor Toužimský, the owner of the Špínotechna laundry. The name "neprakta" itself appeared for the first time in Kopecné's song text Raketa, marked as prakta liška in August 1948.
From the very beginning of working together, the Nepraktovs were very diligent. Already on November 3, they delivered the first three drawings to Svobodné slova, and next Thursday they handed over 21 more funny pictures to editor Peroutek. Neprakta's first joke was published in the supplement Svobodné slova Sunday afternoon on November 20, 1949.
From the first days, the way of creation was established. Bedřich provided Jiří with the sketched subject of the joke and he created the final drawing. At first, they went around the editors with an offer of ready-made drawings, after a few years, when the company had already established itself, the editors chose from the supplied subjects and only those received received a characteristic rendering.
The successfully started cooperation began to falter at the end of 1950. After the Stb provocation, Kopecný was sentenced to 6 months in prison, and he sent articles irregularly from prison. Winter devoted himself to illustrations for the Naše vojsko publishing house, which publishes specialist publications of SVAZARM (Union of Cooperation with the Army). He used his knowledge of nature and carefully illustrated several breeding books, mainly in the fields of cynology and beekeeping. After Kopecný completely resigned from supplying subjects for a total of 23 months for personal and work reasons, Winter illustrated 20 titles for the mentioned publishing house. These were popular scientific publications, but also specialist books, e.g. Cynological Handbook, Breeding of Fox Terriers, Training of Sled Dogs, The Art of Marching, Airplane and Rocket, Lead Accumulator, Theory and Technique of Motorless Flying, Famous History of Soviet Artillery Science and Technology or Victory in Belarus. The books were not published until 1953 and 1954 due to the long publishing deadlines, but the advances paid were enough to cover the family's expenses.
Since 1953, when Czechoslovak Television began to broadcast experimentally, Winter has established himself as a sought-after program illustrator. The not-so-perfect display technique required a simple drawing with a clearly visible line, and Winter's pictures were suitable for television. They introduced broadcast programs, filled technical breaks. In moments of frequent malfunctions, the viewer was informed by Neprakt's image that "The fault is not in his receiver". Cooperation with television studios in Prague, Brno and Ostrava continued essentially until the end of the millennium.
Readers, preferring jokes about animals, knights or ordinary people to the expense of satirical jabs at "war mongers", liked the humor of Neprakty, and the editors gradually learned to supplement their papers with more popular humor.
A unique platform was the satirical-humorous magazine Dikobraz, to which Nepraktov contributed since 1949, initially published by the trade union organization ROH, then under the publishing house of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Czech Republic. The number of periodicals where Neprakt's jokes have appeared over a number of decades is close to one hundred and fifty items. These are almost all popular magazines and daily newspapers published in Czechoslovakia from the 1950s until the turn of the millennium.
The early drawings clearly show the development of Winter's drawing style - from simple to naive anecdotal drawings, he gets more complex drawings, with a number of details and small drawing jokes. Due to the imperfect reproduction technique of zinc plates, especially with rotary printing, he had to deal with the problems of incomplete coverage with printing black or, on the contrary, the color merging into an illegible black spot. The images were printed very small, sometimes the size of a postage stamp, so Winter had to find a way to make the image legible and the lines didn't flow or get lost, and how to capture everything important to understanding the forum.
He always relied on the facial expressions of his characters to match the situation, and he soon rejected the way cartoonists often use to mock a picture with some anatomical irregularity. He stayed with the large noses characteristic of his figures, but he paid strict attention to anatomy. So that the character of a school child is a pupil at first glance, so that the girls are attractive and desirable, the old ladies and grandfathers have the appropriate attributes of old age. He meticulously relied on the correct depiction of nature. Every entomologist could properly identify the drawn beetle from the cartoon joke, the animals were "similar" even though all the flora and fauna had a human expression: they laugh, frown, feel sad or think... Miloslav Švandrlík tried to catch Winter and often included them in jokes he included all kinds of exotic animals with the hope that the tapir, platypus or ochechuli the painter could not handle. He always managed it perfectly, and the readers, in addition to being entertained, also received a small dose of instruction.
Winter relied on the historical accuracy of the captured situation. He made sure that everything in the clothing and equipment of the ladies and gentlemen in the picture corresponded to the period, as well as the details of the background, even if this was not important for the understanding of the joke.
Looking at Neprakt's picture always made me happy. He drew knowledge about Renaissance clothing, for example, from the illustrations of the book The Rich Watches of the Duke of Berry, he followed contemporary fashion at fashion shows or on the streets of Prague. He didn't take notes, thanks to his excellent memory, including the visual one, he remembered the observed things while drawing. Kopecný was educated and well-read, he knew several languages, including Latin and Arabic, and he liked to project interesting philosophical, artistic or literary situations into his subjects. He wanted to devote himself to larger monothematic cycles on motifs from prehistory, antiquity, the Middle Ages... with the aim of creating an Impractical History of Humanity in the future. From the big plans, only the book Ancient Greek Amphora Motifs came out, the set of medieval Tin Men remained unfinished, and the other book visits to the past are just compilations of cartoon jokes published over the years in various magazines.
Jiří Winter made a significant contribution to the cultural life of Czechoslovakia in the second half of the 20th century. He stood out for his encyclopedic knowledge in many fields - natural science, history, ethnography, art or philosophy. As a good storyteller, he was invited to various talks with the public, often featured in television discussions. From his ethnographic or anthropological collections, he lent interesting pieces as exhibits to exhibitions at the National or Náprstk museums in Prague.
Illustration from M. Švandrlík's book: Prague full of ghosts (Immoral Lukrécie and the Chaplain - ROAD Publishing House Prague, September 1, 1993, drawing no. 26 804
Illustration from M. Švandrlík's book: Prague full of ghosts (Immoral Lukrécie and the Chaplain - ROAD Publishing House Prague, September 1, 1993, drawing no. 26 804
In Winter's book illustrations, it is easy to follow the wording and development of Winter's drawing style and way of expressing ideas. The drawing remained simple at first glance, but the author had the opportunity to try out what a bold and sometimes boring line could express. It has evolved from a simple pen, almost syllabary, to an inimitable form. Many aspiring cartoonists have tried to draw in Neprakt's style, but few have succeeded. All the characteristic features remained, but it lost its "syllabic" form and developed into a distinctive style. Also, the subject matter of the jokes has changed significantly over the years. Bedřich Kopecný's themes had a more intellectual character and required greater cultural insight from the consumer to understand. A large number of wordless jokes come from that period. When the writer Miloslav Švandrlík successfully established himself in Kopecné vých, Winter began to draw more animals, fairy-tale creatures and ghosts, the jokes used puns or were straight cartoon anecdotes. In addition, due to the loosening of social conditions, even more or less exposed ladies were featured in the drawings. The draftsman created a handsome type of female body, sometimes with excessively developed curves beyond anatomical possibilities, but such a profile of graceful girls became typical and unique for Neprakta.
It is said that at the unnamed plastic surgery clinic, female clients could choose the shape of their desired busts based on Neprakt's pictures.
The woman was an inspiration for Winter not only in his drawing concept, but also in his other activities, through which he intervened in the public space. His liking for anything feminine can be seen in his activities. He used to be invited as an expert to the juries of various beauty contests (not only for women, but also for the beauty of dogs and cats). He liked to devote himself to the female act, he certainly had a lot of experience in this direction and was considered an expert quite rightly.
From the beginning of the 1990s, that characteristic element - the accompanying forum hidden in the drawing - begins to disappear from Winter's drawings. Also, the line is shakier, rougher, and the color side of the drawing is no longer as playful as in the past. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons is the worsening health of the author. The beginning period was a new impulse for Neprakt's work. In the changed political and cultural conditions, a number of periodicals to which Winter contributed regularly disappeared, including Porcupine. Although new printed materials were on the market, cartoon humor slowly disappeared from their pages. At the suggestion of his friend Ladislav Bezděk, he began to publish erotic jokes and popular, as yet unprinted sensual pictures. The magazines Sexbox, Pardón and NEI report featured several of Winter's drawings in each issue. For Sexbox, he wrote a series of articles on the history of sexuality under the title Flight through the erotic world with many depictions of love situations from collections, mainly of Japanese and Chinese provenance. Neprakt's tickling drawings were published on the covers of the crossword quarterly Křížem Krázem and the magazine Super Krížem Krázem for 11 years (1994-2003). The editorial staff of the magazine partially ended the regular cooperation in 2003. Because the artist was not able to deliver drawings on time and in the quality that readers and Neprakt's supporters were used to, the cooperation was terminated. For the next six years, Winter's "pupil" René Janoštík created the covers from collages from older Nepraktov jokes, then followed up the Nepraktovský series with his own drawings under the Renda brand. Among other things, at the request of a private collector, he created several "new" knightly coats of arms based on the found motifs of Bedřich Kopecný, which Winter postponed or did not implement for some reason.
In 1994, Emil Schneider, a freelance journalist and longtime admirer of Neprakt's work, took Švandrlík's place as the subject of cartoon jokes. The magazine portfolio was expanded to include the titles Tina, Woman and Life, Blesk and Rytmus života. After 2003, Winter loses the ability to create new drawings and gradually ends cooperation with all editors and publishers. Until his departure to artistic heaven, for his own pleasure he was coloring older drawings and making copies of pictures that had been lost somewhere over the years. He drew several dozen of them and with admirable accuracy of the original drawing, even though he had not had it for a long time.
Jiří Winter Neprakta received several important awards for almost 55 years of intensive work. The first and very important recognition for further artistic development was the 1st place in the art competition II. Haškovy Lipnice in 1960. In great competition, Nepraktov won awards at other years of the Festival of Humor and Satire, and a total of 3 books of cartoon jokes were published by the Regional Publishing House. In the following years, the Neprakta brand was always at the top of the popularity charts according to the votes of Czechoslovak magazine readers. Neprakta won the survey for the Golden Thorn of the Porcupine three times (1984, 1986 and 1987) and twice placed second (1983 and 1985 - always behind Vladimír Renčín), together with Miloslav Švandrlík, they won several times in the ratings of readers of children's magazines. Recognition also came from foreign exhibitions and festivals, for example the Silver Boat from the Film Festival in Buenos Aires in 1965 or the Gold Medal for SATIRA 1978 at the World Exhibition in Moscow.
In May 1981, Jiří Wintra was awarded the title of Meritorious Artist. Such awards were given only to those truly deserving of committed work; in Neprakt's case, the award was understood as an appreciation not only of his work, but the inclusion of "humorous drawing" among artistic disciplines and the recognition of all other Czechoslovak cartoonists as artists. On May 6, in addition to those awarded by the regime, artists recognized by the general public also received the title: ND opera soloist Jana Jonášová, violinist Václav Hudeček, artist and glassblower Stanislav Libenský, painters and graphic artists Jaroslav Lukavský and Jiří Švengsbír, violinist Vladimír Pilař, director Ludvík Ráža and singers Eva Pilarová and Karel Hála.
In May 1983, Jiří Winter was awarded the National Committee Prize. city of Prague for "socially engaged creative work in the field of caricature and cartoon humor". In 1988, the Salon Academy of Cartoon Humor awarded Winter the title HUDr. (Doctor Humoris Causa) and the Czech Union of Cartoonists Order of the White Monkey for lifelong contribution to Czech cartooning (2004).
After November 1989, various lists of real and alleged State Security agents and collaborators were published in the press. Winter's person with the code name Gráf also appeared among them. Winter, as a public figure not only at home but also abroad, was certainly in the crosshairs of this secret organization for a long time. By the judgment of 2011, Winter was cleared of the accusation of cooperation and his inclusion in the Stb records was declared unauthorized.
Winter's entire work was later included among the records and curious feats, when in 2001 the Pelhřímov agency Dobrý den issued him a Certificate of Creation of a Czech Record for the publication of 35,000 cartoon jokes and proposed an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.