The Judith and Jan Zach papers are now open for research. Documenting nearly fifty years of sculpture artist Jan Zach’s career, these papers include photographs, correspondence, and publications by and about Zach.
Jan Zach, the youngest of sixteen children, was born July 27, 1914 in Staný, Czechoslovakia. He attended the Superior School of Industrial Arts from 1932 to 1934 and the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague from 1934 to 1938. Zach studied painting and sculpture, his greatest inspiration being the illuminated kinetic sculptures of Zdeněk Pešánek.
In December 1938, Zach traveled to New York to paint murals in the Czechoslovakian pavilion at the 1939 Worlds Fair. Due to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, Zach traveled to Brazil where he remained for eleven years. While in Brazil, Zach met Judith Ella Monk, a Canadian working for the United Nations. They married in 1947. In 1951, he and Judith moved to Victoria B.C. where he opened a school of painting and sculpture. In 1958, Zach joined the faculty at the University of Oregon where he taught until his retirement in 1979.
Some of Zach’s best known sculptures include, Drapery of Memory at the Oregon state capitol, Prometheus at the University of Oregon Museum of Art, Flower of Freedom #1 near New Orleans, Louisiana, and Galaxy at the Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington.
In addition to his sculpture, Zach designed stage sets and costumes for the Original Ballet Russe in Sao Paulo, Brazil and wrote articles for the art magazine, Leonardo. Awards he received include a Fulbright Travel Grant, the Eugene Arts and Letters Award, a National Endowment for the Arts grant for a Sculpture Symposium, and a 1964 award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He was also an avid participant in the the National Sculpture Conference and establishment of the National Sculpture Information Center, as well as a long time member of Rotary International.
Zach continued to sculpt until his death in 1986. His final, uncompleted work, Lady, was completed in 1996 by former student, Jerry Harpster.
To find out more about Zach see Intersections: The Life and Art of Jan Zach, written by Roger Hull. To find out more about this collection view the Guide to the Judith and Jan Zach papers.
Note: An accretion to the Judith and Jan Zach papers, received in 2013, has not yet been integrated into the collection. Contact University Archives for more information about this addition.