Cartier-Bresson, Kertész & Koudelka

Posted: February 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Film, Photography, Quotes

Once, Henri [Cartier-Bresson] rang me in Paris and said, ‘Josef, [André] Kertész is in town, you must come to dinner and meet him.’ I said, ‘Henri, I love his pictures but I do not need to meet him.’ ‘No, you do not understand, you have to meet him because we three, we are of the same family.’ At the time, this seems to me to be an unbelievable thing to say. Now, though, when I look back from a distance, I can see that maybe there is something in that.

-Josef Koudelka

Stairs of Montmartre, Paris 1925, André Kertész

Stairs of Montmartre, Paris 1925, André Kertész

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—1992. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—1992. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos


Hyères, France, 1932 © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

Hyères, France, 1932 © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos


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Happy New Year’s Day

Posted: January 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Film, Photography

PRAGUE—New Years' Eve, 2005. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE—New Years' Eve, 2005. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

G.B. ENGLAND. London. Trafalgar Square. 01/01/2000. © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos

G.B. ENGLAND. London. Trafalgar Square. 01/01/2000. © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK—The Bowery, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK—The Bowery, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

PARIS—La Villette, 1929. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

PARIS—La Villette, 1929. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos


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Josef Koudelka | Prague Spring

Posted: October 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Film, History, Photography, Quotes

Josef Koudelka told Sean O’Hagan of the Guardian that it was a year after the Soviet invasion of Prague when he was in London traveling with a theater group, that he first saw his images published. He had come out of the hotel and some members of the group were looking at his photos in The Sunday Times, credited to the initials P.P. (Prague Photographer), a pseudonym he used out of fear of reprisal.

They showed me the magazine where it said that these pictures had been taken by an unknown photographer from Prague and smuggled out of the country. I could not tell anyone that they were my photographs. It was a very strange feeling. From that moment, I was afraid to go back to Czechoslovakia because I knew that if they wanted to find out who the unknown photographer was, they could do it.

Thus began one of the most important and prolific photographic careers in the last fifty years and a period of freedom and wandering for Koudelka who said that “for 17 years I never paid any rent.”

Koudelka turned to photography in 1967, abandoning a career in aeronautical engineering. He started shooting gypsies and theater groups, until the night of August 21st a year later when the Soviets invaded Prague. He had never documented a major event before. He took to the streets to capture this singular and historic moment. In that seven day period, Koudelka took over 5,000 photographs on the streets of Prague, getting shot at once and being pursued through crowds by soldiers. He was 30 years old.

The photos anonymously reached Magnum Photos in New York and later earned him the Robert Capa award.

The mother of my son, an Italian lady, she once told me, ‘Josef, you go though life and get all this positive energy, and all the sadness, you just throw it behind you and it drops into the bag you carry on your back. Then, when you photograph, it all comes out.’

-Josef Koudelka

You know, people say, ‘Oh, Josef, he is the eternal outsider,’ but on the contrary I try always to be an insider, both as a photographer and as a man. I am part of everything that is around me.

-Josef Koudelka

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Invading Warsaw Pact troops in front of the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Invading Warsaw Pact troops in front of the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, Aug. 21, 1968.

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, Aug. 21, 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968.

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, Aug. 21, 1968.  © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, Aug. 21, 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968.  © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—In front of the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—In front of the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The body of a young Czech, killed for having tried to drape his flag over a Russian tank, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The body of a young Czech, killed for having tried to drape his flag over a Russian tank, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—A poster in a window with a dove stabbed through the middle, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—A poster in a window with a dove stabbed through the middle, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The Czechoslovakian flag, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The Czechoslovakian flag, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Vinohradska Avenue, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Vinohradska Avenue, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos


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Prague Graveyard | Olšanské hřbitovy

Posted: September 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: dougKIM photography, Film, Leica

One of the great landmarks in Prague is the Olšanské hřbitovy graveyard in Praha 3. It boasts a million people buried within its borders though there were not as many gravestones, suggesting some mass graves perhaps, which I confess I did not see. Heroes and martyrs of the Prague Spring are buried here. It also has its own police station within its fences which is impressive.

Walking around the dark, worn paths even on a bright day feels like walking through a succession of Black Sabbath album covers. It is a fantastic, beautiful, serene, sad and spooky world in the shade of massive Brothers Grimm trees.

Olšanské hřbitovy is in a busy, gentrified part of Praha 3 with traffic and bustle and noise and light. Step inside the gates and the world becomes muffled, dark and furtive and you will feel the need in the back of your head to mark your path so that you can safely find your way out.

As much as I tried, I did not produce successful work there, as perhaps it is one of those places that does lend itself to be easily captured. Here are some of those images. Go there. Take the A line Metro to the Flora station and it is right next to the Palac Flora shopping mall.

Olsanske hrbitovy, Praha 3, Prague graveyard

Olšanské hřbitovy, Leica M6, 50mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

This woman was distributing walnuts around the graveyard, placing them on key headstones and grave markers. It was mid-October and the winter was on its way and could already be tasted on the air. She was concerned about the squirrels that lived in the graveyard and wanted to insure that they had enough to eat before the snows came.

She was a marvel. There was a little trough between the walkway and these particular headstones and she could not reach them because of her cane and roller cart. So myself and these two other visitors assisted. She and I talked for a while though my Czech was extremely limited and her English was good, but she kept slipping into French anyways. She told me about her son, whom she had buried years ago though not in this graveyard.

Olsanske hrbitovy, Praha 3, Prague graveyard

Olšanské hřbitovy, Leica M6, 50mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Olsanske hrbitovy, Praha 3, Prague graveyard

Olšanské hřbitovy, Leica M6, 50mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Olsanske hrbitovy, Praha 3, Prague graveyard

Olšanské hřbitovy, Leica M6, 50mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


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Žižkov Television Tower

Posted: June 8th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: dougKIM photography, Film, Leica

A local woman in Prague who understood that I was not interested in seeing castles and shopping, told me to go to Žižkov to see the baby tower. This was one of the final projects of the communist era, a massive radio tower meant to block Radio Free Europe and provide communications for the Warsaw Pact. The tower was resented by the locals as it destroyed the beautiful skyline of the western hills in Prague and was a megalomaniac eyesore. It was finished just as the wall fell and never went into operation to fulfill its original purpose.

In 2000, David Černý was commissioned for an installation and he created these large, faceless babies crawling on its surface. The local woman told me that when she was growing up, they believed the tower was over a radioactive spot and the neighborhood kids shunned the location because of the disturbing faceless mutant babies.

tower

Žižkov Television Tower Babies by David Černý, Leica M6, 50mm summicron © Doug Kim


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