Jiri Kolar was born in Protivin (Bohemia) on 24 September 1914.
Having finished high school, he lives by doing many jobs, even humble ones.
At the age of twenty he began to create collages influenced by poetry and Futurism, a collage he exhibited in a personal exhibition in 1937.
He publishes several books of poetry and begins post-war travel in Europe.
In 1942 he founded the Gruppo 42 with other artists, and for a long time he was the only poet in the group.
The aesthetic ideas of the group coincided very well with Kolar’s beliefs. They challenged the academicism to which modern art had succumbed and sought to unite the destiny of art with that of the contemporary world, to integrate modern civilization with modern poetry.
In 1948, Group 42 dissolved, friends separated and Kolar gradually returned to plastic experiences. The connection of these works with Surrealism, in particular with Breton’s poems-objects, is evident.
In 1949 he resumed making collages.
Jiri Kolar’s most important collages are made with printed or written texts. Then come the collages made with old engravings or reproductions of famous paintings: he starts a systematic work – even in large format – with anticollage, tactile and narrative collages, froissage, perforated poems (in color, with razor knots and blades), rollage, ventilage and other variations that he will never abandon, along with the construction of wooden objects that bring him back to the youthful experience of a carpenter.
The requests for his personal exhibitions led him to travel to Germany, Brazil (where he won the St. Paul Biennale in 1959), the United States and Japan.
After overcoming a serious illness in 1975, he exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Lives for a year in Berlin thanks to the scholarship of a German Academy and the following year, 1980, he settled in Paris where he exhibited at the Maeght gallery. In the meantime he had exhibited for the second time at the Guggenheim Museum, in 1978 and 1980 in the Museum of Dusseldorf.
It is in 1982 that, not having returned in time from France, the Czechoslovak authorities condemn him to a year of imprisonment and the total confiscation of the assets. He does however exhibit his works at the Pompidou Center (Beaubourg) in Paris and at P.A.C. from Milan.
The following year Kolar applied for French citizenship which he obtained in 1984.
In that year he exhibited at the Nuremberg Museum and at the Oxford Museum.
In 1985 he exhibited at the Duren museum and for the third time at the Guggenheim in New York.
In 1986 the Dictionary of Methods (The Winged Donkey) comes out, the complete collection of its collage techniques, also published in English, German, Czech and Italian.
In 1990 Jiri Kolar is present at the Venice Biennale and realizes Homage to van Gogh.
In 1991 the Apollinaria cycle begins.
After his long stay in Paris, he returned to Prague in 1998, where, with his wife Bela Kolarova, he lived until his death in August 2002.
Some books on Kolar’s work have also been published in Italy.