"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