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Saudek Retrospective

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Saudek Retrospective Cover

ISBN13: 9783822830208
ISBN10: 3822830208
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The theater of sensual dreams The Czech Republic has long been a land of mystery and magic, home to alchemists, artists, and the original bohemians, all of them weavers of spells, creators of fantastic worlds of the imagination. Internationally famous Czech photographer Jan Saudek is no exception, and equally as uncompromising in pursuit of his own unique vision. For over four decades Saudek has created a parallel photographic universe, a two-dimensional home full of longing, peopled with the most extraordinary characters and colored by desire. The timeless strength of his hand-tinted photographs lies in their poetic compositions and their forceful?at times ribald?pictorial language, with its overtones of medieval genre pictures and Baroque mythology. Rejecting the traditional beauty in his famous nude photographs, Saudek shows the distinctively different: old women, fat women, children; real people in tableaux vivants that remind us of everything from surreal early movies to fin-de-siecle carnival nights. They exist outside time, a uniquely colored and almost mythical theater of dreams. Covering his debut in the 1950s through his lesser-known work to recent images, this dazzling collection offers us the true ""velvet revolution,"" fertile and unsettling images from the dreams we might still have. The Author - Daniela Mr?zkov?, critic and editor of the Czech magazines Revue fotografie and Fotografie-Magaz?n, is the author of sixteen books on photography published in the Czech Republic and abroad, and the curator of around fifty photography exhibitions. She has been a member of international juries, and has authored film and television documentaries on photography and photographers. She hasfollowed Jan Saudek's work since his early years and is the author of Saudek's first Czech monograph, The Theatre of Life.

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Grady Harp, September 3, 2008 (view all comments by Grady Harp)
Alchemy: The Art of Jan Saudek

Jan Saudek, the leading art photographer from the Czech Republic, is a dazzling artist who has found his own medium of expression for his fertile imagination. This thorough, splendidly produced (Taschen) monograph, edited by the esteemed curator and critic Daniela Mrázková, succeeds at every level: these are the finest 'reproductions' of Saudek's difficult, manipulated photographs available today and the accompanying biographical information is as richly detailed and illustrated as the body of work is explored. This is a large, heavy art book, now made affordable thanks to Amazon's pricing. It deserves the attention of those who respect art on the edge as well as collectors who appreciate the position Saudek has achieved internationally in the world of fine art.

'Our life is a journey, a journey to the end of night' is a phrase from Saudek, quoted by editor/essayist Daniela Mrázková, in the opening biography of the artist, a biography that includes Saudek's birth in Prague in 1935, his internment in a Polish concentration camp for Jews, his survival and early life in Czechoslovakia, military service, multiple marriages and children, and his immigration to the United States where his reputation as an enfant terrible of photographic art grew steadily. All aspects of this interesting, diversified life are accompanied by photographs of the artist and his influences. They prepare the way very well for the generous catalogue of Saudek's unique art that follows.

For those who are new to Saudek's art, this volume will explain his techniques thoroughly. Beginning as a black and white photographer, Saudek soon appreciated the fact that his vision of the world he wished to capture was a combination of reality pushed to extremes and fantasy overlay - and his finished products became hand colored enhanced images of physical feats, anatomical variations from normal, homage to the history of art, and explorations of sexuality that never offend but rather celebrate variants of dreams that seem to have no limits. He places himself in many of the works and seeks out the spectrum of models that range from the massively obese to the aged to the emaciated to midgets to accompany his tableaux vivants. Many of his works are narrative: one particularly beautiful work is entitled 'The Love Story' and is a sepia toned series of 12 images of a white rose in a glass of water beside a girl's photograph, the series showing the bud blooming then losing its petals and finally extracted from the glass which is then removed from the series in the last frame - a simple but deeply moving story of a love eroding to nothingness.

Saudek's images are grouped into exhibitions: The Family of Man, Memories, Forbidden Fruit, The Game, The Fight, The Window, Tales of Love and Ruination, To Be or Not to Be, Every Woman is the Most Beautiful in the World, Sinners, Warriors of God, Paradise Lost, and A Journey without End, a Cry in Vain. Placing his photographs in context with theme allows the viewer a gallery walk where the complete idea of that exhibition can be explored. The images may disturb some, but isn't that a part of fine art's mission - to think in ways outside our frame of reference? In all the works are reproduced carefully, including the all-important margins of each photograph in which Saudek makes meaningful notes and manipulates time, a concept that remarks on his vision of the 'journey to the end of night'. It would be difficult to imagine a finer art monologue than this, and it is apropos that such an important and fascinating artist receive such a fine tribute to a long and very productive life. Highly recommended.

Grady Harp
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Product Details

ISBN:
9783822830208
Author:
Mrazkova, Daniela
Publisher:
Taschen
Subject:
Individual Photographer
Subject:
Individual Photographers - General
Subject:
Photography-Photographers
Edition Description:
Print PDF
Publication Date:
20061131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
443
Dimensions:
13.34x11.32x1.98 in. 9.41 lbs.

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Arts and Entertainment » Photography » Photographers

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