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Josef Koudelka - Moravie (Moravia), 1966. Courtesy of Josef Koudelka and of Magnum Photos.

Josef Koudelka


In 1975, the first edition of Josef Koudelka’s photographs was published by Robert Delpire in a book that became a myth and was never published again. In 2011, Josef Koudelka exhumed a former dummy of the same book and decided to re-publish it with a larger amount of photographs. Exceptional pictures, exhibited for the first time together, unique prints, the show tells, through unpublished documents, the story of those two books published with a thirty-six-year gap.

In the 1975 edition, Robert Delpire said about this special project that impacted the twentieth century history of photography: ‘In the very stillness of the characters Josef questions and who question him, there is a kind of tension, a quivering, the muffled murmuring of flowing blood suddenly contained. It is not so much the temporary nature of immobility, the suspended time peculiar to the snapshot, as the feeling that this precarious immutability is only a surface phenomenon. Beneath each of these weather-beaten and hairless complexions silently glides the ice of all fears. Rooted like dried trees inside these bare, white walls, men mark out lines, indicate the masses of a statistically geometric order. Prisoners of the attention that they bring to bear, without naivety, on the photographic event, they are both witnesses and actors of their own presence. Whether they keep watch over the victim of a murder, show their pathetic treasures or flaunt themselves in front of Josef in the ironic ostentation of an accepted impoverishment, they give to the image its weight of classicism and tradition.’

Robert Delpire, excerpt from ‘Josef ou la fureur de voir’, 1975.

Exhibition produced with the support of Magnum Photos.

Prints by Vojin Mitrovic, Georges Fèvre, Picto.

Framing partly by Circad, Paris.

René Burri (Magnum Photos) - Josef Koudelka.

Josef Koudelka

Born in 1938 in Boscovice, Moravia.

Lives in Paris and Prague.

After studying in Prague, Koudelka worked as an aeronautical engineer, while also photographing the theatre and Gypsies in Czechoslovakia. His photographs of the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968 led to him being anonymously awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal. 16 years later, his name was credited to the images he’d taken. In 1970, he found political asylum in Great Britain and became stateless just before joining Magnum. An exhibition was dedicated to him at the MoMA in 1975, the year that Gypsies, his first book, was published, which was to be followed by Exiles in 1988. In 1986, he participated in the DATAR mission – a government sponsored programme aimed at documenting changes in the French landscape – and used the panoramic camera for the first time. His reflections on man’s effect on the landscape resulted in the book Chaos in 1999. Koudelka, the first retrospective book of the photographer’s work, was published by Delpire in 2006. This was followed by Invasion Prague: 68, published in eleven languages, along with a revised and enhanced version of Gypsies. Koudelka has received numerous awards, among which the Grand Prix National de la Photographie (1987), a Grand Prix Cartier-Bresson (1991) and the ICP Infinity Award (2004). France named him an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1992.

Eglise Sainte-Anne

> 2 September

8 €

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