University of Sheffield Photo Soc

B&W Fortnight photographer profile: Josef Sudek

You may not have heard of Josef Sudek (I certainly hadn’t, until I was lucky enough to stumble across a small collection of his photographs in Rare and Racy, the awesome second-hand bookshop on Devonshire Street). Sudek was a Czech photographer in the early 20th century, not well-known, but best remembered for his magical still life work and images of Prague.

Sudek lost his right arm whilst serving in the First World War, and took up photography when convalescing in an army hospital, taking pictures of his fellow patients. After the war, Sudek spent two years studying photography in Prague, and held his first exhibition in 1933.

Sudek’s work is fascinating and ethereal. Light itself is often a feature of his photographs, and the absence of people creates a quiet, otherworldly effect. He was known as the ‘Poet of Prague’, and was a shy man, never attending any of his exhibition openings, and died quietly, without illness, in 1976.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this mysterious, underrated photographer, an in-depth article about his life and work can be found here, and you can view some more of his photos in this small online gallery. But the best way of getting to know Sudek is undoubtedly to get your hands on one of his photo books and linger on every page – it’s worth it.

Category: General

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