Josef SUDEK, February Enlarge 1 /1


Czechoslovakia 1896 – Czechoslavakia 1976

February [Únor. Okno mého ateliéru] 1948
Collection Title: the series The window of my studio c.1940-54
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: C21, HJ-21181-2UHSE72, II
Dimensions: printed image 22.5 h x 15.6 w cm sheet 23.4 h x 16.2 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1984
Accession No: NGA 84.2938

If you take up photography seriously you must also get interested in another art form. For me it is music. The listening to music shows up in my work like a reflection in a mirror. I relax and the world looks less unpleasant, and I can see that all around there is beauty.
Jan Sudek

A bookbinder by trade, Sudek took up photography after losing his right arm during the First World War. Along with Jaromír Funke with whom he founded the Czech Photographic Society in 1924, Sudek became a part of a new wave of modernist photographers in Europe. Sudek worked in a wooden studio in the yard of his home at 432-4 Ujezd Street, Prague for almost 50 years. He recorded the changing seasons by showing the studio window with dew, ice or rain drops – forming a distorting barrier between internal and external worlds.

Of his work curator Anne Havinga has written: 'Josef Sudek's lyrical, evocative and profoundly personal work conveys a certain kind of magic. Each photograph turns the ordinary into something extraordinary, a reflection of Sudek's poetic view of life'.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Sudek stayed home and made great photographs. He worked on a number of long series around his home in Prague,A walk in my garden from 1940 to 1976 and The window of my studio from 1940 to 1954. He contact printed his images – the negative is not enlarged, the glass plate which he favoured, though it was old-fashioned by this time, placed directly onto the photographic paper. Playing atmospheric effects on the window of his studio against the view outside, he has created an abstracted and ambiguous image. Appropriately, in Czechoslovakia Sudek is known as ‘the poet with a lens’.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra