Josef Sudek (source: Jovan Dezort, ČTK)

Josef Sudek (source: Jovan Dezort, ČTK)

Josef Sudek

1896 (Kolín) - 1976 (Prague)

Josef Sudek was born in Kolín in a family of a decorations painter. He studied at the Royal School of Crafts in Kutná Hora and later he studied at a bookbinder shop of Fratišek Jermann who introduced Sudek to photography. Sudek became a bookbinder in Nymburk but when the First World War started, he had to join the army. He unfortunately lost his right hand at the Italian front.


In 1916 he created his first album of shots of Prague and several albums from the army. His cousin Bohumila Bloudilová established a studio called Rafael in their hometown Kolín and taught Božena, sister of Josef, the art of photography. In the 20s, when he finished studies of photography at the State School of Graphic Arts at Karel Novak's studio, he became a professional photographer. At that time he created a set of pictorialistic photographs of war veterans. When he met Jaromír Funke, they joined the Bohemian Club of amateur photographers and Sudek won the first prize at a exhibition of its members. He left the club very soon and founded the Czech Photographic Society together with Funke and Adolf Schneeberg. This society was against the influence of graphic art techniques in photography.


Josef Sudek photographed the completion of the St. Vitus Cathedral for the 10th anniversary of the establishing of the Republic and published the album St. Vitus. He worked for the Pestrý týden magazine and in collaboration with Ladislav Sutnar he worked for the Družstevní práce publishing house. He opened his studio in Prague-Újezd in 1926 (serves as an exhibition space nowadays). Sudek's first solo exhibition was in Prague in 1932. He switched to the technique of contact prints and used a large-format plate camera since the 40's. He did not leave his favourite topic of Prague and published books called Our Castle and Prague. In 1956 Sudek's important book called Photos was published with more than 230 pictures with accompanying text written by Lubomír Linhart and a poet Jaroslav Seifert.


When he moved to Malostranský Úvoz he made several photographic series, such as Aerial memories, Easter memories, Labyrinths, etc.. He was frequently visited by his friends, painter Jan Zrzavý and architect Otto Rothmayer among others. There Josef Sudek lived until his death in 1976. The address currently serves as a photo gallery of the Umělecko-průmyslové Museum.


Vladimír Birgus, Jan Mlčoch: Česká fotografie 20. století, Praha, Kant, 2005

Anna Fárová: Josef Sudek. Praha, Torst, 2002

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