Czech Photographer | Born: 1896 - Died: 1976
Josef Sudek was a Czech photographer, best known for his photographs of Prague.
Sudek was originally a bookbinder. During The First World War he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1915 and served on the Italian Front until he was wounded in the right arm in 1916. Although he had no experience with photography and was one-handed due to his amputation, he was given a camera. After the war he studied photography for two years in Prague under Jaromir Funke. His Army disability pension gave him leeway to make art, and he worked during the 1920s in the romantic Pictorialist style. Always pushing at the boundaries, a local camera club expelled him for arguing about the need to move forwards from 'painterly' photography. Sudek then founded the progressive Czech Photographic Society in 1924. Despite only having one arm, he used large, bulky cameras with the aid of assistants.
Sudek's photography is sometimes said to be modernist. But this is only true of a couple of years in the 1930s, during which he undertook commercial photography and thus worked "in the style of the times". Primarily, his personal photography is neo-romantic.
Sudek's restored atelier in Prague – Újezd
His early work included many series of light falling in the interior of St. Vitus cathederal. During and after World War II Sudek created haunting night-scapes and panoramas of Prague, photographed the wooded landscape of Bohemia, and the window-glass that led to his garden (the famous The Window of My Atelier series). He went on to photograph the crowded interior of his studio (the Labyrinths series).
His first Western show was at George Eastman House in 1974 and he published 16 books during his life.
Known as the "Poet of Prague", Sudek never married, and was a shy, retiring person. He never appeared at his exhibit openings and few people appear in his photographs. Despite the privations of the war and Communism, he kept a renowned record collection of classical music.
Author: Josef Sudek
Publisher: Collection Art Gallery Ontario
Year: 2012 - Pages: 288
During a legendary career that spanned almost six decades, Czech photographer Josef Sudek, the “poet of Prague,” developed a craftsmanship and technical virtuosity that was unparalleled among his contemporaries. Early in his career, though the prevailing art movements of the 1920s and ’30s included cubism, surrealism, and the Czech avant-garde, Sudek sought his own approach characterized by a striking mastery of light.
Copiously illustrated with photographs from the Art Gallery of Ontario—which will also exhibit the photographs through December 2012—this book takes readers on a journey through Sudek’s life and work. Included here are essays by some of the foremost writers on Sudek’s work, including curator Maia-Mari Sutnik, photo-historian Antonín Dufek, Canadian Art editor Richard Rhodes, and photographer Geoffrey James. Sudek’s photographs also feature heavily in Irish novelist John Banville’s Prague Pictures: Portraits of a City, which forms a biographical portrait of the photographer, and several excerpts from the book are included here. Rounding out the volume is a detailed biographical chronology by Czech art historian and Sudek expert Anna Fárová.
The photographs in this book cover every stage of Sudek’s extensive career, shedding light on his lifelong quest to perfect his photographic vision.