Published by Torst. Text by Daniela Hodrová, Antonín Dufek.
Like the previous volumes The Window of My Studio and Still Lifes, this new Josef Sudek monograph collects a series of photographs made within the confines of the Czech photographer’s workspace. Sudek’s studio famously verged on installation art, as the poet Jaroslav Seifert recalled: “Breton’s surrealism would have come into its own there. A drawing by Jan Zrzavy lay rolled up by a bottle of nitric acid, which stood on a plate where there was a crust of bread and a piece of smoked meat with a bite taken out of it. And above this hung the wing of a Baroque angel with Sudek’s beret hanging from it.... This disorder was so picturesque, so immensely rich, that it almost came close to being a strange but highly subtle work of art.” Gathered here in all their surreal beauty, the Labyrinths series depicts multilayered assemblages of objects in endlessly permutated combinations.
Saint Vitus's Cathedral is the sixth volume in Torst's Josef Sudek: Works series. This volume is the first to compile Sudek's photos of St. Vitus's Cathedral, the spiritual and cultural heart of the Czech Republic, from various periods of Sudek's work. It includes photos that he lovingly prepared for a book that was ultimately never published, titled Svat Vít.
Josef Sudek (1896-1976) began his career in photography by submitting prints to international salons, competitions in which photographs were assessed by a jury, and the results published in a salon yearbook. From the start, Sudek's work met with great success at the salons, alongside that of Drtikol, Krupka and others, but it was only with the series From My Studio Window, which originated during World War II, that his name found wider fame. As a result, Sudek's salon photographs, dating from his return from World War I in 1918 until around 1932 (by which time he had begun his own business), have tended to be overlooked. The Unknown Josef Sudek retrieves these early works: beautiful still lifes, portraits, street scenes and interiors. Presenting the largest collection of this work to date, the publication reevaluates the importance of the photographer's earliest experiments, and demonstrates how he used the salons as a testing ground for new ideas.
Czech photographer Josef Sudek, who is best known for his moody, Romantic shots of still lifes and street scenes, was an influential advertising pioneer. Though this commercial aspect of his oeuvre is often overlooked, he collaborated with designer Ladislav Sutnar and architect Otto Rothmayer to create striking ads that rival the work of better-known contemporaries. This aspect of his career was short lived, however. The nationalization of privately owned businesses in Czechoslovakia at the end of the Second World War, coupled with the Communist takeover of 1948, made advertising largely superfluous. In this volume, Sudek's striking commercial portfolio is presented for the first time. The book includes an introduction by Czech Modern art historian Vojtech Lahoda, as well as a complete bibliography. In 1978, Sonja Bullaty-a former student of Sudek's-edited the first monograph of his work, which firmly established his reputation as one of the great photographers of the twentieth century. That volume was unrivaled prior to the publication of this monograph, which, in concert with two other concurrently published books, creates the most extensive compilation of Sudek's work to date.
From the mid-1920s until his death in 1976, Czech photographer Joseph Sudek shot Gothic and Baroque architecture, street scenes and still lifes--usually leaving the frame free of people and capturing a poetic and highly individualistic glimpse of Prague. The still lifes are the best known aspect of his oeuvre; indeed, his graceful depictions of drinking-glasses and eggs are familiar to those who don't necessarily even know his name. Acceding to his reclusive nature, Sudek began The Window of My Studio series in the 1940s. It allowed him to capture street scenes without going outside and helped him discover a particular fondness for how glass refracts light. The still lifes emerged from the informal arrangements Sudek would make on his windowsill, and occupied him for a number of years. Depicting a range of quotidian objects with a marked artfulness--some were made in homage to favorite painters like Caravaggio--the series deserves a deeper look. This volume is the first in-depth study of Sudek's still lifes and also explores his creative use of carbon printing--a pigment process on rag paper not often used photographically--which lent so many of his images such extraordinary depth and warmth.
The series of photographs that Joseph Sudek created in the Mionsí Forest of Morovia's Beskid Mountains is perhaps the most classically Romantic and visually stunning body of work ever made by this important Czech photographer. In the late 1920s, while shooting the interior of Prague's iconic Cathedral of St. Vitus during its final phase of completion, Sudek learned a great deal about light. Years later, alone, deep in the virgin forest, he lay in wait for the light that he knew would lend the ancient trees their ghostly aspect--finding graceful compositions in isolated wilderness. Photography historian Antonín Dufek penned the introduction to this volume, which is the first to present such a comprehensive set of Sudek's photographs of the Mionsí Forest, the ruins surrounding Hukvaldy castle and the foothills of the Beskids. Josef Sudek, born in 1896 in Kolín, was a bookbinder and amateur photographer for several years before studying at the State School of Graphic Arts with Karel Novak. Along with a handful of other young Modernists, he founded the Czech Photographic Society in 1924. While maintaining a successful commercial career, Sudek nurtured a lifelong, Romantic fascination with light and mood. He died at the age of 80 in 1976.
Josef Sudek was Prague's Atget. From the mid-1920s until his death in 1976, Sudek photographed everything--the Gothic and Baroque architecture, the streets and objects--usually leaving the frame free of people. Where Atget photographed the social realities of Paris, Sudek captured a more subjective experience of the city where he was born. Because he was reclusive, a large portion of Sudek's body of work was captured through his studio window--he was particularly fond of how the glass refracted light. The Window of My Studio series, spanning from the beginning of the Second World War to the first half of the 1950s, has never previously been compiled in one volume. This publication presents the series, which was of fundamental importance to Sudek, for it caused his work to verge even more into a Surreal or Magic Realist style, with blurred images and strong shadows. Photography historian Anna Farova contributes an introduction and an extensive biographical chronology to this volume, which also includes a complete bibliography of portfolios, books and catalogues of Sudek's work, as well as a complete list of his exhibitions--information that is difficult to find elsewhere. The publication has been produced in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario.
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 First World 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 neo-Romantic 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.
In a career that spanned nearly seven decades, Josef Sudek, one of the masters of twentieth-century photography, created his own solitary world of shadow and light, of theme and variation. The more than 100 images in this monograph convey the spirit of Prague as well as the spirit of Sudek.
Dubbed the “poet of Prague,” Josef Sudek was one of the most important and celebrated of Czech photographers. Sudek produced his best work during his middle-aged years, having grown up and out of the rules of Modernism and into a style of his own. Whereas his photographs from the 1930s are mainly a reflection of the external world, by the 1940s he was returning to himself, finding his own unique creative path. It was during this period that he made his most famous photograph, a view of the world seen through his studio window, the window ledge doubling as a stage for still life objects--a setup which he repeated to great effect. Not even the pressures of WWII and the difficult postwar years, including the demands of socialist realism in the arts, interrupted the continuity of his oeuvre.