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Art Photo Collector

Posts tagged czech:

"Any photographer who says he’s not a voyeur is either stupid or a liar."—Helmut Newton

The artist Miroslav Tichý, who passed away in May 2011, was born in 1926 in what is now the Czech Republic. Although trained as a painter at The Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Tichy’s life took an altogether different direction after the Communist takeover in 1948. Tichy had a problem with authority and rather than acquiesce to the new demands of the State, chose a marginal lifestyle in his hometown of Kyjov.

With handmade cameras fashioned from bits and pieces of old cardboard tubes, cigarette boxes, plexiglas and other ephemera, Tichy would wander around his hometown taking surreptitious photos of individuals, generally young women, at the local pool, markets, or walking around town. Most of his subjects weren’t (in many cases) aware that his cameras were actually real, choosing to believe instead that the unkempt eccentric standing in front of them was harmless. He allowed himself three rolls of film a day. These recorded images would then be brought to his home where he processed, developed and printed them for himself.

Through the strange alchemy of his vision and the eroticized intensity of his photographs, Tichy’s work garnered attention late in life. He was internationally “discovered” in 2004 during the Seville Biennial. Since then he has gone on to have solo shows at such premier venues as the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris and his first American show at the International Center of Photography. Today, his work is widely collected, exhibited and for sale by dealers like myself.

Although his photography and artistry break all the rules in terms of focusing, exposure, poor printing, and careless handling, none of this mattered to Tichy who once told an interviewer, “A mistake. That’s what makes the poetry.” —Lane Nevares

"If I have anything to say, it may be found in my images." —Josef Koudelka

This weekend the Art Institute of Chicago opens a significant exhibition, Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful. The Czech-born, French nationalized photographer isn’t the settling down type. Since vacating his country in 1970 for greater political freedom in England, where he joined the photo agency Magnum, Koudelka has led a life, at the age of 76, of wander and wonder.

This new show will exhibit the complete surviving 22 photographs of the début presentation of his famed 1967 Gypsies, along with original photobooks and ephemera. While the exhibition, sadly, will not be coming to NYC, it later travels to the J. Paul Getty Museum (LA) and the Fundación MAPFRE (ES). 

What makes Koudelka’s work exceptional? It’s his intangible ability to suffuse images with the poignancy of loss, emptiness, and a feeling that above it all, life is a fascinating mystery in all its pathos and beauty. I often find myself coming back to his work again and again. It’s poetry for the eyes.—Lane Nevares

"You don’t see the things you photograph. You feel them."André Kertész

Tucked away in the Clamp Art gallery, Evzen Sobek’s Life In Blue series is a little gem of a show. I first encountered this series, shot along the Nové Mlýny reservoirs in the Czech Republic, upon publication of the monograph in 2011. Since then it has gathered notoriety and has been featured in many blogs and publications. I was pleased to see the work first-hand and in relation to one another.

For those of you in NYC, I include a visit to this show on my fine art photography tour to illustrate how deceptively easy it appears, but how difficult it is, to achieve coherency in a body of work. In this series, the color blue is the ostensible motif, but Sobek’s ability to create a consistent mood, or feeling, is what makes the work shine. Join me and others for lively conversation and fun this Saturday. —Lane Nevares