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Photographer's Note

Josef Koudelka (b. 1938 in Boskovice, Czechoslovakia) is a Czech photographer.

Josef Koudelka was born in 1938 in Boskovice, Moravia, a small village of about 400 inhabitants. He began photographing his family and the surroundings with a 6 x 6 Bakelite camera. In 1961, he earned a degree from the University of Technology in Prague and later worked as an aeronautical engineer in Prague and Bratislava. At the same time, Koudelka began photographing theatre productions on an old Rolleiflex camera.

In 1967, Koudelka decided to give up his career in engineering for full-time work as a photographer. In August of 1968 he witnessed and recorded the military forces of the Warsaw Pact as they invaded Prague and crushed the Czech resistance. His pictures of the events became dramatic international symbols (though he published them for the first time anonymously in 1969), helping him to win the esteemed Robert Capa Gold Medal. This proved a major turning point in Koudelka’s life and career. In 1970 he fled Czechoslovakia and won asylum in London, England, living there for the next nine years. A nomad at heart, he continued to wander around Europe hoping to capture something of the world that seemed to be vanishing before his eyes.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Koudelka sustained his work through numerous grants and awards, and continued to exhibit and publish major projects like Gypsies (1975) and Exiles (1988). His work received much support and acknowledgment from Anna Farova, a Czech art historian, and the famous French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 1987 he became a French citizen, and was able to return to Czechoslovakia for the first time in 1991. He then produced Black Triangle, documenting his country’s wasted landscape.

Koudelka resides in France and Prague and is continuing his work documenting the European landscape..

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Koudelka exhibition is in Istanbul Pera Museum. For those Turkish TE members who live in Istanbul, i would strongly recommend.

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