Josef Sudek
September 13, 2015 5:18 PM   Subscribe

Josef Sudek (1896 - 1976) was a Czech photographer, best known for his haunting night-scapes of Prague.

Josef Sudek was born in 1896 in Kolin on the Labe in Bohemia. As a boy he learned the trade of bookbinding. He was drafted into the Hungarian Army in 1915 and served on the Italian Front until he was wounded in the right arm. Infection set in and eventually surgeons removed his arm at the shoulder. (...)

In 1940, he saw a 30 x 40 cm photograph of a statue from Chartres, which, he recognized, was not an enlargement but one made by the contact process. The print so impressed him for its rendering of the stone material that he vowed thereafter always to make contact prints. He said it was less the fineness of details he craved in contact prints, than their tonal variation. From then on he lugged view cameras as large as the 30 x 40 cm format (roughly 12 x 16 inches) around the steep streets of the Hradcany and Mala Strana sections of Prague, working with one hand, cradling the camera in his lap to make adjustments, using his teeth when his hand was insufficient.

Pbase Gallery • Ted Forbes talks about Sudek on The Art Of Photography • Art Blart: Josef Sudek: Master of Photography. • gallery of 15 prints • Featured in Dec. 2014 Harper's article, Crooked Timber (behind subscriber paywall)

posted by Devils Rancher (6 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Chaos, Mess and Uncertainty: Josef Sudek and Surrealism - pdf
posted by adamvasco at 5:42 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just found this catalog at MFA Boston.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:24 PM on September 13, 2015

Nice to feature a such a great photographer on these pages. TY
posted by Meatafoecure at 11:01 PM on September 13, 2015

This page run through Google Translate has some information and images. These are really quite arresting pictures, especially if you line them up with the wildly over-processed images we're so used to calling "art" these days - nice find!
posted by ersatzkat at 3:41 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

These are gorgeous photos. Prague is so ripe for this kind of photography. I was there a few years ago and went out one night and took night shots of abandoned side streets and was able to get some pretty cool and slightly creepy pics. Prague is so photogenic.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:21 AM on September 14, 2015

John Banville's "Prague Pictures" mentions Sudek quite a bit. Details of Sudek at work:
(Sudek) would kneel down on the spot,... crawl with his camera into the lightless sack and, working by touch, insert the new film.

A ray of sun had entered the darkness (in the catacombs) and both of us were waving cloths to raise mountains of ancient dust 'to see the light'.. Obviously (Sudek) had known that the sun would reach here perhaps two or three times a year and he was waiting for it.

posted by of strange foe at 7:18 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

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