Josef Sudek

"Everything around us, dead or alive, in the eyes of a crazy photographer mysteriously takes on many variations, so that a seemingly dead object comes to life through light or by its surroundings. And if the photographer has a bit of sense in his head maybe he is able to capture some of this—and I suppose that’s lyricism." — Josef Sudek

Czech photographer.

Josef Sudek is a man roaming the streets of Prague, bent under the weight of a cumbersome and archaic camera and of a tripod of an itinerant photographer, a photographer left here from a previous epoch who takes his pictures hidden under the large black veil and slowly pressing the rubber ball of the releasing mechanism. In a Zen koan they ask how the clap of one hand sounds. The art of Josef Sudek has something of the fabulous resonance of this hand which cannot clap with the other, as he lost his right arm on the Italian front during the First World War. Although sometimes an assistant helps him to stand up the camera, during his taciturn roamings over Prague he is always seen alone, the clumsy Kodak of 1894 and the tripod already became a part of his profile, just like the beret and the black coat and the left shoulder sinking always lower in lack of the counterweight of the right arm, already a phantasm and still painful, amputated in the field hospital. In 1926, when Josef Sudek had been a war invalid for almost 10 years, he once again returned to Italy accompanying his friends from the Prague Philharmonics. Music was his other great love. In the middle of a concert he rose from his seat, left the theater like a somnambulant, and through deserted and dark streets he reached the outskirts of the town... he saw a farmhouse, and with the certainty of the dreams he knew that this was the farmhouse where he had been taken when he was wounded, when his arm was cut off. “But I have not found my arm,” he related later.... (text: Antonio Muñoz Molina) More at
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First Collected by

Danielle Steylaerts


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