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Josef Koudelka (Photofile) Paperback – April 30, 2007
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About the Author
Bernard Cuau (1935 - 1995) was a writer on and teacher of photography.
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Koudelka is famous for how stubborn he is about showing new images, and this book isn't an exception as it is a review of the photographer's most-known bodies of work: Gypsies, Invasion 1968, Exiles, Chaos. Let assured however, the most if not all of Koudelka's iconic images are present, and the quality of the reproduction is very high (for example, some of the photos from Exiles have much better definition and contrast than their reproduction in my copy of the revised edition published by Delpire in '97). Also, you get a rare glimpse of the photographer's earlier work from the late 50's and of his theatre photography from the early 60's in Czechoslovakia.
Considering the high prices of other books by Koudelka, this book is a bargain, and if you're new to this photographer's work, it's a great place to start.
he is a worthy subject of investigating further, this is a good place to start.
There is an excellent introduction by Anna Farova who had known the photographer for 40 years by the time of the writing and is a leading photography historian. The book also possesses an insightful discussion between Karel Hvizdala and the photographer although it isn't quite as captivating.
But the true light of this book are the images of Josef Koudelka, starting with the theatrical experiments up through the emotional environmental shots. I am glad that they chose the theatrical experimentations as they link all of the work together. Without these images I would have said leave the pure landscapes out as they just don't fit with Koudelka's images of people. It is the theatrical images that show that the landscapes are more about how the environment shapes what you are seeing, changing the subject matter into an emotional statement.
Throughout Koudelka's images you are on the outside looking in and you can never be on the inside looking out. You want to feel for the subject but you know you can not feel what the subject is feeling.
To me Koudelka surpasses Sudek as a poet in the manner of e.e. cummings being compared to Shakespeare. One may be a classic master but the other is redefining what is being mastered.
The image reproductions are well done, but be aware that there are not a lot of them....
The photographer is introduced by Berbard Cuau in 4 pages, I found the text is really worse reading to understand something about Koudelka's specific vision.
This book is nice printed and accurate designed. All photographs provided with date and a country name, where they were taken. Shortcoming: I don't completely understand the order in which photograph's are located, neither by the date, nor by the place.
The book is really handy, but it is not a defect for me - it was made to quickly review Koudelka's works and to make people understand if they are interested in this photographer. And in that case they can spend more time and money and buy one of that huge serious albums.
I give this book 4 starts because I was a bit disappointed: there is no "toughtful 12-page essay by Anna Farova that introduces Koudelka's pictures, as well as the 24-page transcription of a conversation between Josef Koudelka and a fellow Czech journalist" as I expected after reading comments at Amazon. There is only 4-page introduction and a short biography and bibliography of the photographer.