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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Josef Koudelka

Dates:  1938, 10 January -
Born:  Czechoslovakia, Moravia, Boskovice nr. Brno
 
  
Czech photojournalist working with Magnum. It was his work with gypsies that helped to establish his reputation.

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Approved biography for Josef Koudelka
Courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK)

 
  
Josef Koudelka sprang to fame - as Photographer X - for his images of the Russian invasion of his native Czechoslovakia in 1968. Before and since then, Koudelka has spent many years photographing gypsies; matching his lifestyle to theirs, travelling and living rough with them. From 1986 he also made very different images with a panoramic camera, depicting urban and rural landscapes devoid of people to reveal the impact of industrialisation. Other projects have included photographing the construction of the Channel Tunnel and the industrial pollution in Czechoslovakia. 
  
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Victoria & Albert Museum and is included here with permission. 
  
Date last updated: 11 Nov 2011. 
  
SHARED BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION PROJECT 
  
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
 
If you find any errors please email us details so they can be corrected as soon as possible.
 
  

Biography provided by Focal Press 
  
Koudelka’s graphic black and white images deal with those on the fringes of society. His formalized theatrical organization of reality looks at the daily community rituals of gypsies and exiles. His images of the invasion of Prague dramatically synthesized the terror and freedom of being isolated. His panoramic views search for a reprieve within a derelict landscape, where our own bleak despair has ruined nature’s pleasures. Koudelka’s prints utilize deep, dark black tones to continually portray the mental and physical conundrums and world-weariness of being a refugee. 
  
(Author: Robert Hirsch - Independent scholar and writer) 
  
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 
  

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Bill Jay
Josef Koudelka 
[Photographers] 
n.d.
 
  
Family history 
  
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch. 
  
alan@luminous-lint.com
 
  
 
  

Visual indexes

 
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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online (www.groveart.com) has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
Show on this siteGo to website
 

Internet resources

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Magnum Photos 
http://www.magnumphotos.com ... 
Probably the world‘s most famous photo agency for photojournalists. Use this site to access the portfolios, biographies of the many notable Magnum photographers. Where there are books by the photographers the website frequently includes the photographs used. 
  
 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

 
• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
  
• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.266 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
  
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.285 
  
• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
  
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Josef Koudelka.] 
  
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.175 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 
  
 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

 
• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.252 
  
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.202 [Analyzes a single photograph by Josef Koudelka.] 
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
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