Josef Koudulka (born 1938) Czech Artist
The work of Josef Koudelka is full of the intensity of men, fragility of their looks and spirituality of moves… It speaks about life and death and the thin line between which close to the sacred.
He was close to the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson who gives him support and acknowledgment. When turns 49 years old he gets the French nationality and was only able to get back in his own country Czechoslovakia in 1991.
About his work
He had returned from a project photographing gypsies in Romania just two days before the Soviet invasion, in August 1968. He witnessed and recorded the military forces of the Warsaw Pact as they invaded Prague and crushed the Czech reforms. Koudelka’s negatives were smuggled out of Prague into the hands of the Magnum agency, and published anonymously in The Sunday Times Magazine under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal to him and his family.
His pictures of the events became dramatic international symbols. In 1969 the « anonymous Czech photographer » was awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for photographs requiring exceptional courage.
With Magnum to recommend him to the British authorities, Koudelka applied for a three-month working visa and fled to England in 1970, where he applied for political asylum and stayed for more than a decade. In 1971 he joined Magnum Photos. A nomad at heart, he continued to wander around Europe with his camera and little else.