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Exhibit: The Intimate World of Josef Sudek

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This summer, Prague comes to Paris, as seen through the eyes of the most important Czech photographer of the XX century, Josef Sudek. This is the first exhibition of Sudek in France. It is composed of a selection of a personal donation of some 3,000 original prints, previously unseen by public, and is exhibited in Jeu de Paume gallery in Jardin de Tuileries. "The Intimate World of Josef Sudek" is a chronicle of Sudek's life-long commitment to photography, of his incredible sensitivity to light and shadow, to everyday objects and to poetry of daily life, and a tribute to his work as an exceptional printmaker.

Josef Sudek 2
©Josef Sudek

Born in 1896, Josef Sudek was trained as a bookbinder, however, after losing his right arm during World War I, he could no longer pursue this path and turned to photography. He learned to operate bulky and heavy photo cameras on his own or with the help of assistants. A loner and a very private person, he spent most of his life in his small studio home in the center of Prague, photographing things he saw around him, often through his studio window (series The World from my Window), his garden, the city of Prague by day and by night (Night Walks) and its churches, as well as various objects that he collected obsessively: drinking glasses, flowers, seashells, crumpled paper, mirrors, frames, flasks... Influenced by various art movements, such as Pictorialism and Modernism, he was experimenting between soft, dreamy images and precise sharpness. Eventually Sudek developed his own unique style that did not fit into defined frames, but exuded aesthetics and sensitivity through the photographs of his own personal world.

Josef Sudek 3
©Josef Sudek

Known as the "Poet of Prague", Sudek photographed places that held either personal or spiritual significance for him. He walked the city in the daytime, capturing Prague's streets and squares, churches and castles, bridges and gardens. During Nazi occupation of Prague from 1939 till 1945, Sudek started experimenting with night photography. Forced to stay at home during the curfews imposed on citizens, he photographed the streets plunged in darkness from his little courtyard, hidden from the road. There were only a few lamps coming from neighbours windows, so he created dark and moody images with very little available light. These photographs of Prague in darkness became a metaphor for the dark times of Occupation.

Josef Sudek 6
©Josef Sudek

A skilful printmaker, Sudek saw a photo print not only as an image, but as an art object. He employed various printing techniques, from pigment prints using carbon tissue to gelatin silver prints, playing with density of an image and creating either sharp and precise or soft and ethereal photographs. The choice of paper of varied tints and textures also played an important role in creating a particular mood for each print: sometimes two different prints of the same photograph are exhibited side by side for comparison. For this reason, Sudek's photographs can only be truly appreciated when seen exhibited - no computer screen would reproduce the same effect of perfectly mastered tones or the texture of paper mounted on Sudek's original supports made of metal, glass, and other materials.

Josef Sudek 4
©Josef Sudek

Josef Sudek's photography is an intimate journey into his own private world through deeply felt photographs. His aesthetics and poetry are revealed in every print, whether it's an image of a glass of water by the steamed window or of a curved tree in his garden, a dreamy forest or the bridges and churches of Old Prague. If you happen to be in Paris this summer, don't miss this exceptional exhibit!

  • Until:

    Saturday, 24 September 2016

  • Venue Details:

    Jeu de Paume
    1, place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris

    Metro Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12)

    Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 am to 7 pm, on Tuesdays until 9 pm
    Entrance fee 10€

  • Exhibit: The Intimate World of Josef Sudek
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About the Author

Nadia Gric

Nadia Gric

Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography. Learn more...