November 18, 2016 - February 1, 2017
While often described as solitary and reserved, the photographer Josef Sudek was once a familiar figure to many on the streets of Prague. Born in 1896 in Kolín, a town east of the capital on the Elbe River, he made the city his home in the early 1900s. It became a central subject of his work, throughout and despite years of political upheaval, until his death in 1976. He left behind an otherworldly, serene, and singular vision of this turbulent era.
A skilled printer, devoted to the minutiae of the process, his mastery of the silver gelatin print is evident in the harmony between detail and obscurity which has become one of the most influential elements of his photography. Condensation on a window pane, mist in a deserted forest, or industrial fog in city streets serve to draw focus to the central features of an image, while creating a distinctive atmosphere and mood.
Sudek’s legacy continues to be reappraised and celebrated far beyond his home city, notably in a major exhibition at Jeu de Paume, Paris, this summer. He dedicated his life to documenting the natural and built landscape of Prague, but he also took some of his finest pictures inside the walls of his tiny courtyard studio that was recently rebuilt as a tribute to his work. Throughout his long career, which encompassed dark and difficult times, Sudek’s photographs uphold the value of quiet contemplation and awareness of one’s surroundings. He reminds us that transformation and hope can be uncovered when we look to the light.
This is the final instalment in a trilogy of photography exhibitions.
The Douglas Hyde Gallery would like to thank PPF Art a.s. and the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Dublin for their support and enthusiasm in realising this project, which marks the 120th anniversary of Sudek’s birth and the 40 years since his passing. A new publication with a text by Michael Hill and Rachel McIntyre accompanies the exhibition.