September 13, 2012  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions, Videos
Manufacturing Poetry: The Toys of Libuše Niklová

Libuše Niklová. Sound-producing animals in their original packaging. 1963–65. Hand-painted polyethylene, paper, PVC. Manufactured by Fatra, Napajedla, Czechoslovakia (est. 1935). Archive Fatra, Napajedla, Czech Republic. © From the book Libuše Niklová by Tereza Bruthansová, published by Arbor vitae societas in 2010. Photograph by Studio Toast

The plastic toys designed by Libuše Niklová—original, artistically conceived, and technically ingenious—are a firm favorite with visitors to MoMA’s Century of the Child exhibition. They remind us that many toys manufactured in Soviet Bloc countries like Czechoslovakia during the 1960s and 1970s were anything but pedantic and dreary. Like many of her contemporaries, Niklová was inspired by the potential of plastic to create toys that were cheap to produce, colorful, lightweight, washable, and easy to store. “Development cannot be held back,” she wrote in 1971, “In the future products from plastic matter will surround man just like the air, and they will become commonplace. Increasingly, natural materials will be a luxury and the object of admiration. The future, however, belongs to plastic.” In the video below, the designer’s son, the artist Peter Nikl, introduces us to some of the toys he grew up with and road-tested, demonstrating their enduring tactile and emotional appeal.


I love this! The toy designs are so simple, yet so fun, positive and eye-catching! I hope to go back to NYC to see this exhibit. Cheers!

It is so great! The essence of creation. On being oneself’s own god through simple things like playing with toys, yours & others. Can’t wait to see this exhibition along with the Quay’s (another bunch of children).

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