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Joseph Koudelka


1938 - Boskovice, Czechoslovakia

Josef Koudelka is a Czech photographer who’s most famous images were of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Prague in 1968. Although largely self taught, Koudelka’s images are highly narrative and deal with themes of power and isolation.  -

What drives Koudelka in his photography is not known to anyone but himself, and could probably never be articulated clearly even if he wanted to. But it is clear that the intensity with which he approaches life and photography is what electrifies his images and brings him, if not happiness, then perhaps an exploration of how he looks at life. -

Starting with his full immersion into capturing the gypsies of Slovakia and Romania, he approached photography as a complete life devotion. Koudelka has captured darker themes from desolation to despair, but also shows hope from within the human spirit. Looking at his work is almost like a masterclass in photography. -

Koudelka was born in 1938 in the small Moravian town of Boskovice, Czechoslovakia. He began photographing his family and the surroundings with a 6×6 Bakelite camera. He studied at the Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT) between 1956 and 1961, receiving a degree in engineering in 1961. He staged his first photographic exhibition the same year. Later he worked as an aeronautical engineer in Prague and Bratislava.

Original article
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