CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Prague. August 1968. Invasion by Warsaw Pact troops. Near the Radio headquarters

CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Prague. August 1968. Invasion by Warsaw Pact troops. Near the Radio headquarters


From November 6, 2013 to January 13, 2014 – The National Museum of Modern Art

Josef Koudelka (born in Czechoslovakia in 1938) is one of the most important photographers in the world today. This exhibition traces his career from his earliest to his most recent works.

While working as a flight engineer, Koudelka became involved in photography in the early 1960s. He became a well-known figure in the Czechoslovakian photography world through his pictures of a Prague theater, which he came to shoot on the introduction of an acquaintance. In 1967, Koudelka quit his job and began working as a freelance photographer. The following year he shot Warsaw Pact troops as they invaded Prague. These photographs were anonymously distributed in the West, and as a result, Koudelka decided to leave the country in 1970.

FRANCE. Hauts-de-Seine. Parc de Sceaux. 1987.

FRANCE. Hauts-de-Seine. Parc de Sceaux. 1987.


A
fter living first in England and then France, Koudelka showed series such as Gypsies (1962-1970), which he had taken while still in Czechoslovakia, and Exiles (1970-1994), which he shot throughout Europe after his defection. In these poetic and uniquely powerful images, Koudelka captured the shadows of people’s modest lives in various towns. The photographs were highly esteemed as works that were imbued with profound insights into civilization during the 20th century, and Koudelka immediately rose to fame as a photographer in the West.

The first retrospective of the artist’s work was held in Koudelka’s former homeland of Czech Republic at the National Gallery in Prague in 2002 before traveling to Turkey and Mexico. In addition to vintage prints that have rarely been shown in the past, and a series of panorama photographs called the Chaos series (1986-2012), which he has continued since the late ’80s (shown here in a new structure that includes his most recent efforts), this exhibition, the artist’s first in Asia, introduces Josef Koudelka’s entire body of work.

The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo