Monday, March 16, 2009

March 17: Josef Sudek (1896-1976)

Josef Sudek[Visual description: An older Josef Sudek, seated at a table showing the remains of coffee, smiling, his hand on his lap]
"We traveled down the Italian boot until we came to that place--I had to disappear in the middle of the concert; in the dark I got lost, but I had to search. Far outside the city towards dawn, in the fields bathed by the morning dew, finally I found the place. But my arm wasn't there--only the poor peasant farmhouse was still standing in my place. They had brought me into it the day when I was shot in the right arm. They could never put it together again, and for years I was going from hospital to hospital..."

--Josef Sudek, describing a 1926 trip back to the site of his 1916 battle injury in Italy; found here.
Born on this date in 1896, Czech photographer Josef Sudek. As a young man, he was apprenticed to a bookbinder, who may have been the first to introduce Sudek to photography. The year he turned 20, Sudek's right arm was amputated at the shoulder, after injuries and infection sustained in battle during World War I. Apparently he was given a camera during his convalescence in the veterans hospital, and found it agreed with his interests. Sudek studied photography after the war in Prague, while living on his Army disability pension. In 1924 he co-founded the Czech Photographic Society.

Josef Sudek's work is considered neo-romantic, painterly, haunting. He created series that captured the light inside a cathedral, or the Bohemian woodlands, or panoramic Prague nightscapes. "I love the life of objects," he said. "I like to tell stories about the life of inanimate objects." His own crowded studio was the subject of another series, called "Labyrinths."


Kirk said...

Above all, we should remember him as a master of the subtleties of light.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post and links to work I didn't know before. Lovely photography.

May I ask an off-topic question: Why do you put the textual description of the image in the text of the post, instead of in the alt-attribute of the image, which is meant for these descriptions? Considering the title of this blog you probably have a reason for preferring this?

Penny L. Richards said...

Hi Joost-- We've generally tried to do both (I'll go add the alt tag to that image if I forgot, thanks for the reminder).

We have found that some readers who appreciate a textual description of images, often for reasons other than visual impairment; and it's a more noticeable signal of welcome to readers of all styles. We also try to summarize audio content (for example, from YouTube videos), and provide lyrics or transcripts where possible. I can't claim we're 100% on any of these matters, or even close, but we try within the realities of a volunteer-run group blog.