Photographs by Josef Sudek. Text by Jan Rezac.
Torst, Prague, 2008. 96 pp., 86 color illustrations, 8¾x11".
Although the Czech photographer Josef Sudek was mildly reclusive by temperament, and
although his photography is commonly characterized as unpeopled (in favor of what he termed
“the inanimate life of objects”), a sizable portion of his oeuvre is given over to portraits. In fact,
the beginnings of Sudek’s work are in portraiture, in his images of fellow patients at the veteran’s
hospital where he spent three years after the FirstWorld War. (It was here that Sudek’s right
arm was amputated after a battlefield injury, a misfortune which did not prevent him from
using heavy, large-format cameras in the future.) Decades later, after he had cofounded the
Czech Photographic Society in 1924 and established his signature Neoromantic preoccupation
with architectural Prague, he returned to the genre. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Sudek
photographed close friends, among them the poet and Nobel Laureate Jaroslav Seifert, many
painters and writers, but also scientists, doctors, politicians, architects, actors and other important
public figures in Czechoslovakia. Portraits, the second volume of Sudek’s collected photographs,
gathers this body of work. In addition to a chronology of Sudek’s life, it includes a complete
bibliography and list of his exhibitions, as well as an interview with Jan Rezác, Sudek’s colleague
and an expert on his work.
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