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On war and art -The poet of Prague

by Alexandra in WMass Sat Feb 4th, 2006 at 07:40:29 AM EST

Josef Sudek was known as the poet of Prague. His Poetry was not about words or rhymes. He was a photographer who combined light, shadows, film, paper and a philosophy of life that gave him the patience to capture fleeting glimmers of the sun to create enigmatic compositions, panoramic landscapes to ponder and delight in, and still lives captured out of the mundane leftovers of everyday life.

He was born in 1896 in the town of Kolín before Czechoslovakia existed. During World War I he lost his right arm to the realities of trench warfare. And, into the 1970s, he could be seen wandering the streets and hills of Prague squinting with one eye to find the next place and time when he would set up his heavy antique plate cameras.

Here are some of his photographs; photos others took of him and some word to accompany this exhibit.


Josef Sudek in 1964
photograph by Josef Prošek

Update [2006-2-1 22:40:13 by Alexandra in WMass]: - In response to a question I added a section in the comments on the realities of working with one arm.

Promoted by whataboutbob & bumped by DoDo



Evening on Charles Bridge - 1940-1950
From the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) collection , (Click on photo for more details)


Sudek believed in the intrinsic poetry of his beloved city - the landscapes, architecture, gardens, statuary, street scenes, as well as a more intimate poetry that could be found in music, in his friendships, and in the objects of his daily life. He savored the wait and exploration, and lived for that moment of epiphany when the poetry would reveal itself - even if only for an instant- before changing and having to be rediscovered. The photographer's patience was legendary

Source: Josef Sudek, Poet of Prague: A Photographer's Life published by Aperture in 1990.




"Rush slowly young man, rush slowly" were Sudek's words to a young photographer I know well. As Sonja Bullaty, an assistant and long time friend of Sudek's, recalls this "was Sudek's motto throughout his life. It expressed not just patience but a philosophy, the attitude that all's for the best. ...  if something could not be achieved or photographed this year he could always come back another time".

Sonja Bullaty and Josef Sudek, 1945-1946
As Sudek walked the streets of Prague he would return to places several times throughout the year to check on the light at a particular time of day, sometimes waiting several years before taking a photograph. Sudek's advice also applied to developing negatives. He would usually let a few years pass before starting work on a negative temporarily lost in the great mess of his studio.

Sudek may have developed his rush slowly approach early on when printing his first photographs.

As he explained:
 


Labyrinth in my Atelier 1960 (click on the image for another picture in his labyrinth series)

Photography, that was an adventure... Take an enlarger, for instance; that was a funny box, where you put a negative on top, paper on the bottom and then you took the whole thing someplace in an open space without buildings, put it down on the ground, and exposed for several minutes by daylight. When I wanted to enlarge, that was not so simple, I had to wait for the weather not to be changeable, so the exposure would be even. That was not photography, that was meteorology. Today it is easier, only today I don't enlarge anymore.

Source: Sudek quoted in SUDEK by Sonja Bullaty published in 1978

Indeed, in 1940 after seeing a contact print from the 1900s and admiring it's quality he decided it was the technique that suited him best. Except for commercial photography from then on his prints were all the same size as his large negatives (13x18cm, 18x24cm, 24x30cm, 30x40cm, 10x30cm), often with a black edge added.


Still Life - 1954
From the MFA collection , (Click on photo for more details).


Untitled - 1967
From the MFA collection , (Click on photo for more details).


Fine grain, sharp contrasts and delineations didn't interest him, and he began to use tinted papers which enhanced the slightest gradation of tonality, while retaining the blurry contours of his forms. The images deepened, dark tones became almost unintelligible and shadows merged with the blackness of the borders.

Source: Josef Sudek, Poet of Prague: A Photographer's Life published by Aperture in 1990.

I've tried to find words to explain what I love about art and photography, Sudek's photographs in particular, but I'm no art historian or art critic despite living with a photographer. In the images themselves I see light and shadows, geometries and patters, sometimes even humor, sadness or calm all intertwined with the subject matter itself. See what you see.

--- HERE IN SEMI-CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER IS A SAMPLING OF SUDEK'S PHOTOGRAPHY ---



Z Invalidovny
From the Veterans Hospital
1922-1927

From the MFA collection
(Click on photo for more details).


Sudek - Words on World War I on the Italian front:

In the trenches, I was taking it easy, hanging as far back as I could. As punishment, I was assigned the worst placement. It was a hole next to the latrines, wet and reeking. And we were the last to get chow. Naturally, by the time food reached us it was cold. But when the tenth offensive took place, I was happy o find the place had a great advantage. When the "Eyetalians" (sic) started a barrage, the shells kept flying above the hole, ending up in the latrines. We were quite safe there. The next day when we got our rations, they were hot, because the poor buggers who had come first were all dead now.

I lost my arm during the eleventh offensive. We were ordered "forward" and as we charged out own artillery started shelling us from the back. I screamed, "Down!" at the boys but they never listened. As I was lying there I felt as if a rock hit me in the right shoulder. I started looking around but all the guys who had been standing were now dead. I crawled back to our lines, and as I was getting into a dugout, I slipped and it started to hurt. Then I lost consciousness.

Many years later in an interview, with his characteristic sense of humor, Sudek added:
The war destroyed my arm, later I lost it. Of course I did not enjoy that, but at least I was consoling myself that I did not lose my head. That would have been worse.

Source: Josef Sudek, Poet of Prague: A Photographer's Life published by Aperture in 1990.


Sunday Afternoon on Kolin Island
1924-1926

From the MFA collection
(Click on photo for more details).

In 1928 a limited edition portfolio of Sudek's photographs of St. Vitus Cathedral was publish. The introduction by Czech poet Jaroslav Durych reflected the patriotic mood on the 10th anniversary of the Czechoslovak republic as the cathedral's construction, started by Charles IV in 1344, was completed: "St. Vitus is a whole realm of light and shadow, which the nation started building at the dawn of its history: a tomb erected for all its dead. Its faces are as innumerable and the richness of its forms are as inexhaustible as the nation's own"

In his work Sudek juxtaposed the grander of the Cathedral with the tools and silhouettes of the workers finishing the monument.



From S K Josefsberg Studio ,
(Click on the photos for more detail)





View from above the Pinnacles and Flying Buttresses of the Cathedral of Saint Vitus, north-side from the portfolio Svàty Vit (Saint Vitus)- 1928
From MFA collection , (Click on the photos for more detail).


Third Courtyard of the Castle, Prague - About 1937
From MFA collection , (Click on photo for more details)

Sudek's ability to find deep emotions in the statuary of the cemeteries and monuments around him continued throughout his life.





A Walk in the Cemetery
 of Mala Strana
1946

From MFA collection

Sadrova Hlava
1945

From Museum of New Mexico MFA collection
 (Click on the photos for more detail)

----

During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, Sudek retreated to his studio and started more a intimate series of "From the Window of My Atelier" photographs.




From the Window of My Atelier - 1944 -1954
From the MFA collection , (Click on photo for more details).

When I began to photograph my window during the war I discovered that very often something was going on under the window that became more and more important to me. An object of some kind, a bunch of flowers, a stone, in short, something separated this still life and made an independent picture. I believe that photography loves banal objects, and I love the life of objects. I am sure you know that fairy tale of Andersen: when the children go to bed, the objects come to life, toys, for example. I like to tell stories about the life of inanimate objects, to relate something mysterious: the seventh side of a dice.

Source: Sudek quoted in SUDEK by Sonja Bullaty published in 1978


On the Windowsill of My Studio - 1944 -1953
From the website of the Josef Sudek Studio, (Click on photo for more of Sudek's photographs).

Years of neglect led to the demolition of Sudek's old studio. It was reconstructed and opened in 2000 as a small museum and gallery for the works of Sudek and other photographers.

---



During world war II Sudek also found, at a friend's in a small town in Moravia, one of his signature cameras, a 1894 Kodak camera.

It only had two shutter speeds but its rotating lens produced 10 by 30 cm negatives, which Sudek used for his famous Praha Panoramaticka , (Prague Panoramic) book published in 1959 with 288 panoramic contact prints.


(Click on image for more details)


Kampa ze Streleckeho ostrova - 1956
From George Eastman House collection , (Click on photo for more details)


View from Vrtba Garden Terrace - 1959
Cover of the 1992 re-issue of Praha panoramatická
(Click on photo for more details)

Peter Sramek , a professor of photography in Toronto, has created an interesting online gallery comparing Sudek's panoramas with more recent views of the same areas of Prague.

---




Reklamní fotografie (advertising photography)
1932-1936


Onion - 1950-1954
From Josef Sudek, Výběr fototgrafií z celoživotního díla by Kirsschner Zdeněk published in 1982

From Josef Sudek by Anna Fárová published in 1995
 


A Summer Shower in the Magic Garden - 1954-1959
From MFA collection , (Click on photo for more details)






Portrait of the Painter
 Vaclav Sivko
1955


Remembrances of E. A. Poe
1959

From MFA collection , (Click on photo for more details)





Remembrance of Mr. Magician
(the garden of architect Rothmayer)
1959

From MFA collection
(Click on photo for more details)


Memories, Lovers, IV Variations
1948-1964

From "Josef Sudek, Poet of Prague: A Photographer's Life" published by Aperture in 1990.


Vicar's Lane
From Pražský chodec. Fotografoval Josef Sudek a 1981 book of Sudek's photographs titled walking in Prague.

---

In August 1976 a large retrospective exhibition of Sudek's work organized by Anna Farova and honoring his 80th birthday was held in Roudnice . Sudek did not attend his openings but toured this exhibit after the guests left. Author and photographer Charles Sawyer wrote a beautiful account of the event . and took several pictures of Sudek that day and later at his studio. This was the last Exhibit held during Sudek's lifetime. He died later that year on September 15th in Prague. Here are a few of the photographs from that August, presented with the author's permission.


Sudek touring the empty gallery
1976 - by Charles Sawyer



Sudek in the gallery curator's
office - 1976
by Charles Sawyer


Sudek in his studio
1976 - by Charles Sawyer


A beautiful online album of Sudek's photographs is also available. He is one of many artists included in the stunning online Fine Art Photography Gallery and Forum .

For more information on Sudek' work and biography a full bibliography of Sudek's photography and a review a more detailed timeline of his life are available online.

Display:
Well what was as seemingly simple idea, respond to the demand for more ET diaries on the arts, turned into a major project. I certainly improved my non-existent HTML skills. Enjoy!
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Jan 31st, 2006 at 11:16:39 PM EST
Incredible! And your compositions (say the two veterans' hospital photos) are so good I won't touch the parts where the images are too wide when I promote this to the frontpage in the evening :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 08:38:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I tried to find an interesting way of presenting this. The problem once you get into the graphic arts is that a long list of pictures one after the other ends up looking rather dull. I did the best I could with a few basic HTML commands. If you or anyone else has any technical tips for the future let me know, although I can't promise a piece like this too often it took quite a bit of time to pull together.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 08:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, your html is flawless! What I meant is that at one place, you have a 400 and a 220 pixel wide image (plus frame) side-by side, at another place one large 655 pixel wide image, which on my 1024x768 screen is already too wide. (We recommend 400 pixels generally so that the ET frontpage fits even on a 800x600 screen - I was previously not unguilty in going wider -, but tolerate 600 pixels below the fold [I myself adopted 590 pixels as maximum].) But as said, your compositions (using html) are so good I don't want to touch any of it (by reordering or resizing). It's only a small extra anyway, I can still see all the links to the right.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 09:13:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the HTML compliment :-) I've added a tech question below I didn't want to bore others with technicalities up here.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 10:33:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am interested in technicalities. Still unable to align the text of my diaries. Starting to feel really uneasy about that.,br>
The front paging was indeed very swift. Did not have the time to recommend the diary before it was front paged.
Any recommendations for an easy html practise book ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 04:45:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frontpage later. WOW. My goodness that's a compliment. Feel free to adjust as you see needed.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 09:04:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
never put off til tomorow what you can promote now!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 10:32:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WOW that was quick - THanks! I have to step out for several hours so won't respond to any questions until later this evening  European time.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 11:08:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Alexandra...FANTASTIC!!! Thank you for this excellent piece!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 05:43:31 AM EST
Bob - I'm glad you like it! It was an experiment. We'll see what response it gets.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 08:37:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, yeah, yeah, great stuff!
by PeWi on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 09:29:14 AM EST
I just went back through this article...s-l-o-w-l-y...and what a great gift to be introduced to his work! (Can't believe I never heard of his work before now...yet another lesson learned at University of ET!!)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 10:40:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"ET university" I like the concept. Serious but informal and with a sense of humour (& British spelling;-), that's ET for me.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 11:03:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi PeWi - looking forward to your art pieces. Didn't I hear that was one of your future project?
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 11:05:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the first challenges I bumped into in putting this together was how to get text to wrap around the images so you wouldn't have these big blank spaces next to the pictures. After some searching I found the table commands that seemed to do the trick but here are some of my lingering tech questions:

  1. Is there another way of getting text to wrap around images? I tried a alight="right" command I found but while the picture moved to the right only one line of text would place itself on the left of the image.

  2. Is there a way to underline text? I tried U instead of the I or B I used for Italic and Bold but U didn't seam to be a recognised command.

  3. Dodo - thanks for the tips above on picture sizes. One follow up question is: is there a way to see what the width of the total text+picture+frames is? For example in the intro section of this Diary I have text+picture+frames but I just eye balled that they didn't seem to take too much room on my screen & then tried to keep most of the rest of my text & pics that same width (having no idea what width that was exactly).

  4. related to question #3 I also didn't seem to be able to apply paragraph alignment or resizing to the frames that contain text the way I did with the pictures by adding width="200" for example.

Any suggestions?
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 10:57:28 AM EST
  1. You must have erred in some detail you haven't described. My Design Dictators train diary used just the method you described. (Have you put the text you want left of the image immediately after closing the img tag? Have you committed the same typo - you wrote alight - as above?) However, note: if you use this, the image might be overlaid on the next image when the text is too short.

  2. You can underline using the span tag:
< span style="text-decoration:underline">

  1. If there is text, it will use up the available space, so there will be no problem. For the frames (both sides together), add four (tough, those can be set to appear differently by one's browser).

  2. You can set the width of a table cell with text in the (opening) td tag. But it is better to leave it automatic. For how to set the text alignment differently, you have to ask someone else...


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 11:14:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of couse, the span tag has to be closed: < /span>

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 11:15:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you to Dodo!!
  • See what I can do now!
  • I will try my intro text here too with align right:

Josef Sudek was known as the poet of Prague. His Poetry was not about words or rhymes. He was a photographer who combined light, shadows, film, paper and a philosophy of life that gave him the patience to capture fleeting glimmers of the sun to create enigmatic compositions, panoramic landscapes to ponder and delight in, and still lives captured out of the mundane leftovers of everyday life.

Josef Sudek in 1964
photograph by Josef Prošek

Now all the remains is to figure out how to get that photo label text to align to the right margin instead of the left & maybe change its font size I found instructions to use the following (without spaces) but it doesn't work

< P ALIGN=RIGHT>
Josef Sudek in 1964
photograph by Josef Prošek

< /P>

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 02:29:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Test

Now does this text align itself to the left or right? This is an attempt with a div tag, a style attribute with a guessed value: "text-align:right". Let's see if it works.

Now did it? The code was:

< div style="text-align:right">

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 04:41:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Voilà!

Of course, the div tag had to be closed too (< /div>).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 04:43:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you see now? Is this a paragraph aligned to both margins (that's the left and right margins)? If yes, a div tag with a style attribute of value "text-align:justify" does work fine. What should I write about to make this test paragraph longer? Off-hand factoid: there was a monarch who was of the house of Luxemburg, became the husband of a Hungarian Queen, of whom he later took over as king, and even later became Holy German Emperor, and resided in Prague. He established the Order of Dragons, which is at the origin of the name of horror creature 'Dracula'.

...and does this text appear at center?


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 05:04:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bravo Dodo!! Quel génie ;.) Non sérieusement merci d'avoir pris le temps. Thanks for taking the time to help with this.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 05:28:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
J'ai fait le dernier aussi pour moi :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 05:35:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...or should it be:

J'ai aussi fait le dernier pour moi?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 05:38:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Juste du premier coup! J'aurais sans doute dit «quant au dernier je l'ai aussi fait pour moi». Merci milles fois pour ton aide. By the way in my posting in the comments (section added on Sudek & working with one arm) I could not get the pictures to resize or align in any way. Why is a total mystery since I was using the same HTML that worked above. Bizarre Bizarre...
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 10:23:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A virtual art exhibit.  What a wonderful idea!  

The "Labyrinth in my Atelier 1960" looks like it is right out of Hrabal's "Too Loud a Solitude".

There is a certain Czech aesthetic that I see in films, novels & now photographs, and I'm in love with it.  I don't know how to describe it though.  There is a kind of idealism and charm without the sentimentality, or with self-aware sentimentalism, and a kind of playfulness.  The over-used term ironic does it no justice, but seems fitting. Gothic but not imposing.  Poetic without all the pretention.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 01:09:31 PM EST
Glad you liked it. I haven't read "Too Loud a Solitude" although the translator is a family friend. I'll have to add it to my reading list.
 
I don't know how to describe it though.

You describe it well nevertheless!

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 02:52:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I hope you are starting a trend here for more "virtual art shows"...not only from you, but others...I'm inspired to try too, but will have think of who to focus on...so many artists, so little time...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 01:40:49 PM EST
 Hey another art show - that would be nice! I'll be interested to see what subject matter you choose.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 05:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is great, thanks for this!
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 02:52:09 PM EST
This is a beautiful and original diary, Alexandra. I loved it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 04:24:00 PM EST
If you html skills were non existing and you got that far, there is hope for me.
I love photography, espacillay black&white, and this diary is just enchanting.
The demand for art focused diaries is indeed being met, much to your credit and that of Alexander Rubio. I'm sure to be forgetting some names, but please go ahead!
And our front pagers's good taste is once again evidenced. OK, I will not deny e-hugging charges ;) Sometimes it just feels good to say thank you...

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 04:41:04 PM EST
Hey as an HTML novice (I did have statistics programming experience so it helped with the general logic of coding but much else) I can now tell you that you have to need to do it to really jump in & learn some basics. At least that what I had to do. It was all about a few key moves and then help from google & some ET friends to figure out the details.

Glad you liked it and, while we're at it, thanks for you interesting mix of contributions here at ET!

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 05:43:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agnes I realised I never answered your earlier question about "an easy html practise book". I don't know of any such book. It probably exists but I just used online resources and Dodo was very helpful in answering my tech questions at several key points.

The first resource I used was the ET New user guide. I used to, and often still have to, go to the guide every time I wanted to post pictures or a link.

Another good resource is a Booman Tribune diary someone on ET referred to a while ago: http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2005/4/30/235843/369 It doesn't cover everything but it helped with first steps.

By googling I found http://www.echoecho.com/htmlimages08.htm It's on that site that I learned how to create tables so you can put images & text in invisible boxes next to each other. However, I also found out that not all the commands listed on that site seem to work on ET.

Dodo's answers to my tech question comment in this diary were also very helpful to iron out some additional problems.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 03:28:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The software running ET is called SCOOP, any HTML goes only though it - hence the limitations. However, both on the new diary writing page and the comment writing page, just below the "Preview - [format] - Post" button line, you'll find a list of all the html tags and tag attributes that can be used.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 03:47:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alexandra, this is extraordinary.  Thank you so much for sharing this with us.  I had not heard of Josef Sudek before, but these photos are mezmerizing.  I didn't want the diary to end... actually, I've gone back and looked at all the photos three times already, and when I finish posting this I'm going to make it a fourth.

I'm struck by the fact that you mentioned the loss of his arm only in passing....  I know that it is essentially inconsequential to the quality of his images, but from a purely technical perspective, it would have made practicing his art much more difficult.  Which makes his "rush slowly" philosophy even more wise....

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 06:03:27 PM EST
Stormy present I'm glad you enjoyed them and found yourself looking a them a few time. I'm responding to your question, it's an important one, in a separate post further down.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 08:53:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is phenomenal, Alexandra! Poetry of the highest order.
by Bernard Chazelle (Bernard Chazelle) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 06:30:02 PM EST
Well this has been a very gratifying process. It's a delight to be able to share something you love and admire and have other enjoy it. Thank you all for your enthusiasm.

Stormy present asked about Sudek working with one arm:


I'm struck by the fact that you mentioned the loss of his arm only in passing....  I know that it is essentially inconsequential to the quality of his images, but from a purely technical perspective, it would have made practicing his art much more difficult.  Which makes his "rush slowly" philosophy even more wise....

As s/he suggests working with one arm was not a minor feat. Sudek himself did not dwell much on the loss of his arm so I chose not to in this diary, even though it does make his work all the more amazing to me. Let me take this opportunity to supplement the diary. Anna Farová, who knew the photographer well and later became the executer of his estate, argues that Sudek had already started doing photography before WWI and
it was not the case of a devastating accident changing the course of his life, as most biographers would assert; rather, the amputation of his arm accelerated his greater destiny, while paradoxically making each task more arduous, more protracted.

Sudek traveled the streets of Prague with a bag of camera equipment and a big tripod over his shoulder. The young photographer I mention briefly in my diary remembers well how Sudek would craw into a big black film changing bag he had made specially so that, when needed, he could change film on the street with his left hand and his teeth.

Source here (sorry this time the width resizing didn't want to work on these photos for some mysterious HTML reason).

The poet Jaroslav Seifer, who sometimes accompanied Sudek, described him as follows:


His camera was already attached to the tripod, and he was carrying both, along with a heavy bag on a strap over his left shoulder. In the shoulder bag he had several additional lenses and other equipment. For a single arm, it was quite a load... Sudek positioned the tripod in the sand of the path, looked around him for a while, and then carried it to a least three different places. All that with his left hand. The empty sleeve dangling from the right side of his coat. When he was getting the camera ready, he helped himself with his teeth. At the moment, he was holding in his mouth a piece of a soiled black cloth, and with his tousled lock of hair looked like a lion dragging a piece of meat. I wanted to help him. All right then, I was to hand him the first plate. He rounded his palm and index fingers to form a telescope of sorts in front of his eye ... He waited for a long time for the right light. Maybe half an hour, maybe an hour. When it did not materialize, he picked up the camera and we moved to a higher place. And waited again. He wrestled with the light like Jacob wrestled with the angel...He did not speak...Only from time to time he whispered to himself his favorite saying, "the music keeps playing"... The entire ceremony was very slow, but severe and exact.

Source: Josef Sudek, Poet of Prague: A Photographer's Life published by Aperture in 1990.

My interpretation is that Sudek's "rush slowly" approach to photography really reflected his life philosophy and was not necessarily directly related to the loss of his arm.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed Feb 1st, 2006 at 10:34:34 PM EST

I suspect there was a typo somewhere.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 10:57:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aie aie! You encouraged me to go typo hunting & sure enough after a detailed comparison of what's in the new user guide HLML and what I had used I found I left out the " after img src= . I was thrown off by the fact that the pictures posted. I now know that it's because the one quote was missing that they did not accept any formatting commands. Another one HTML mystery solve and easier to avoid next time!! Nagyon köszönöm or Köszönöm szépen.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 12:58:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Szívesen! :-) [=avec pleisir =please]

(BTW both of what you wrote are correct; where did you learnt/found them?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 03:52:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
plaisir.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 03:53:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well its a rather funny story & nicely multicultural. A good friend of mine from India & I decided to introduce my husband to the joys :-) of Bollywood movies. She chose  a few films and in the end we settled for  Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam . What we didn't realize is that the movie is filmed in Hungary & India but the story takes place in Italy & India. We all laughted when we realized the location switch. One seen takes place in a tram (that looked just like the ones in Prague) and the conductor is checking ticket and keep on saying Köszönöm Köszönöm. As for the spelling I had to google for that. Just type thank you in Hungarian and you'll find a site that has thank you in many languages.
FOr more on the movie check out this link:
http://www.outlookindia.com/diary.asp?fodname=20000221&subsubsecname=Budapest&authorname=San jay+Suri
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 06:27:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, that's a nice story...

I remember reading of the Bollywood movies done in Budapest. My city has an unfortunate history of standing in for other cities. Tough, with the draw of crappy films, maybe better so. In Spy Game (with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt) it was East Berlin, in Evita Buenos Aires, in Spielberg's Munich, it was Munich and other European cities. In Michael Jackson's self-glorifying totalitarian promo for his History album, the Heroes' Square was multiplied by four to surround a CGI statue of him. Alone in Eddie Murphy's crapacular I Spy was Budapest Budapest.

There are also a lot of video clips and commercials (tough you possibly saw none of those in the USA) that were made in Budapest but you wouldn't know if unless I told you. For example the latest by Chemical Brothers with that basketball that flies across the city, and that Citroën commercial with the ghost cars.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 06:23:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same here, Alexandra. Thank you for that, some of the pictures are just amazing. Makes me want to go to Prague even more.

So simple and beautiful, as all great things. I think I am gonna save some of the photographs.

I stared liking Eurotrib even more.


"Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think." - BUDDHA

by JulyMorning (july_jdb(at)yahoo(dot)com) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 10:40:09 AM EST
Welcome to ET JulyMorning! I'm glad you like the photos. Look forward to your contributions from a Bulgarian perspective.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Thu Feb 2nd, 2006 at 02:47:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember when I first saw the Cathedral of Saint Vitus. It amazed me with its complexity, splendour and magnificence. Josef Sudek's pictures most accurately capture the beauty of the cathedral. I particularly like the one where the ray of light illuminates the inside of the cathedral.
I have never heard of Josef Sudek before, but his pictures really seem to portray his saying of "rush slowly". All the pictures show unmovable slowness.
I enjoyed reading this diary and saving the pictures as my desktop background.
by pavlovska (transbluency(at)mailcity.com) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 12:49:20 PM EST
Welcome to ET Pavlovska! One thing I find amazing about the Cathedral, in addition to what you already mentioned, is the fact that it took more than 500 years to build. Imagine all the generations of workers carving it's stones all those years. It also gives a new meaning to "rush slowly".
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 03:06:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that is probably the most fascinating thing about the Prague's churches - all of them have been built for centuries and all of them have something peculiar about them. There is one church in Kutna Hora- a small town near Prague- which is called the Ossuary Church aka Church of Bones. The inside of the church is entirely built of human bones. It is amazing. One cannot admire the perfection of the church, at the same time it is just frightening to look at it, bearing in mind that it had taken 30,000 human skeletons to build the church. Luckily, those people were not killed for that purpose but were already dead for centuries and the heap of human bones that accumulated with time and that stayed in front of the church for centuries had to be either buried or used for some other purpose. That is how the inside of the church was built.  And, again it took centuries to finish the church. Sudek knew that perfection is time consuming, i.e. the perfection is "rush slowly" process.  You mentioned that he sometimes waited for years before taking a photograph, and would visit the same place several times in a year until the final, perfect moment comes. He knew that the perfection comes lowly.
by pavlovska (transbluency(at)mailcity.com) on Sat Feb 4th, 2006 at 06:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"unmovable slowness" I like the description! I hope well see more of your comments here at ET.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Fri Feb 3rd, 2006 at 03:26:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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