Lord of Magic Shadows Josef Sudek (38 photos)

11 May 2024
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Light, space and love for people are the distinctive features of this photographer’s work.





Josef Sudek (1896 - 1976) was born in Kolin (then Austria-Hungary). At the age of three, he lost his father. After graduating from school, he moved to Prague, where he lived until the end of his life. The magic of this ancient city became one of the main themes of his further work.



Sudek trained as a bookbinder and worked a little in his specialty. When World War I began, he went to the front, where he lost his right arm. After returning home, his only source of livelihood was a pension, but friends helped Joseph get a photography course.

In 1920, Sudek purchased a modest house, which became his whole universe. In addition to simple everyday photographic sketches, he photographed architectural objects and sculptures:

I would be very bored if I limited myself to one specific direction all my life, for example, landscape photography. A photographer should never place such restrictions on himself.

Usually the eye is accustomed to seeing not light, but the surfaces that it defines; however, when light bounces off materials, the perception of materiality shifts to the light itself. Sudek looked everywhere for such materials. And then he balanced the unearthly radiance with the contrast of his deep shadows.

In all his photographs there is one dominant mood, one consistent point of view and one overriding philosophy. The mood is melancholy and the point of view is romanticism. And philosophical detachment dominates all this.



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Sudek lived almost his entire life as a hermit. He was never able to fully come to terms with the trauma, so his work is characterized by deep melancholy, which many mistakenly mistake for lyrics.

What is noteworthy is that Sudek himself did not perceive photography as a separate art direction and completely calmly accepted both awards and sometimes very harsh criticism.

The classic of photography, famous for his images of the soul of ordinary things, cityscapes of Prague and mystical still lifes, was dedicated to the discovery of asteroid 4176 in 1987, named in his honor.








































































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