Jan Lukas

1915 (České Budějovice) - 2006 (New York)

Jan Lukas was born in České Budějovice and started photography as a 12-year-old, after his family moved to Prague. When he won a sixth place in the Kodak world competition, he decided for a profession of photographer. Lukas became the youngest member of the Bohemian Club of amateur photographers and he participated on the International Exhibition of Czech Photography in Manes alongside renowned artists like Josef Sudek, Jaromír Funke, Henry Graz, Man Ray, A. M. Rodchenko and many others.


Jan Lukas attended the Liberated Theatre, led by Jiří Voskovec and Jan Werich, because he also tended to reflect political and national events which were quite frequent in that time.


His works were published through the Melantrich and Paul Bachman (Paris) agencies.

Lukas worked for the Eva, Hello on Sunday and Lilliput magazines. He photographed in Bulgaria, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, Scandinavia and Russia.


After high school he spent one year in Viennese graphic school and later was admitted as a cameraman for Baťa company.


He married Milena Nocarová in 1946 and published his first book The Earth and People. Spork's Kuks and Caution! We shoot! came later.


At the EXPO '58 world exhibition Lukas won a gold medal for black and white photography. In 1961 his memoirs were published, followed by his Moscow photo album a year later which was suddenly destroyed. Das Buch vom Wein (The Book of Wine) was published after that.


He emigrated to Italy and then moved to New York - because of that the album from Crete The Labyrinth could not be published in Czech magazine Mladá fronta.


In Manhattan he worked on a book called America According to Kafka and created several front pages for Franz Kafka´s titles. A photo album called The Islanders came out in 1987.


Lucas definitely closed his photographic business at the time when the freshly elected president Václav Havel visited the White House and made a speech in the U.S. Congress.


Vladimír Birgus, Jan Mlčoch: Česká fotografie 20. století, Kant ve spolupráci s Uměleckoprůmyslovým muzeem v Praze, 2005

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