World-renowned photographer Koudelka donates 2,000 photos to Czech Republic

The majority of the photos, including his most iconic, will go to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.


Written by ČTK Published on 21.09.2021 13:36:00 (updated on 21.09.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Sept 21 (ČTK) - World-famous Czech photographer Josef Koudelka donated to the Czech Republic today some 2,000 pictures taken across a 70-year career with the majority of the collection going to a museum in Prague.

Among the 1,800 pieces going to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague (UPM) is the photographer's iconic Invasion 68 cycle, which tells the story of the Warsaw Pact armies invading Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Additional photos will be offered to the National Museum and the Brno Moravian Gallery.

I have no doubt that the donation was placed into the right hands and it will be treated correctly in the future," Koudelka said at a briefing at the Culture Ministry today.

Koudelka said he felt his years are limited already and that he is trying to accomplish all he can. He added that while he used to travel a lot, he is currently unable to do so, therefore he is trying to sort out his archive. Koudelka said that the donation to the UPM will follow up with other projects.

"When traveling, I used to write notes. I have 69 diaries that comment on my life in a very authentic way. A book called "Diaries" is to be published. An American author is writing my biography for three years, this one will be from another angle, for a change," Koudelka noted.

Koudelka said he believed his foundation and the UPM would accomplish their goals and if he dies, the three-member foundation, which knows Koudelka very well, should pursue the goal. The foundation established two years ago is comprised of Koudelka's long-time collaborators Irena Sorfova, Jonathan Roquemore, and Stuart Alexander.

The UPM signed the first part of the donation contract in 2018 on the occasion of Koudelka's 80th birthday and his retrospective exhibition on display at the UPM. A further part of the contract was signed this year and another one is to follow.

Josef Koudelka
Josef Koudelka

Born in Moravia in 1937, Koudelka took his first photographs as a student in the 1950s. About the same time that he started his career as an aeronautical engineer in 1961 he also began photographing Roma communities in Czechoslovakia and theater in Prague. He turned full-time to photography in 1967.

The following year, Koudelka photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague, publishing his photographs under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal to him and his family. In 1969, he was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for those photographs.

Koudelka, who left Czechoslovakia for political asylum in 1970, has had more than a dozen books of his work published.

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