Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ceskoslovensk√° Fotografie (1931-1949)

About the Series

Ceskoslovensk√° Fotografie was a photographic annual published by the Czech Amateur Photography Club. While professional Czech photographers between the wars made their livings from portraits and souvenir books, the amateurs pushed the limits of photography as an art. The greatest of these, Sudek, Krupka, Drtikol, Styrsky, and Ruzicka, exhibited with the "Amateur Photography Club," and published their work in the amateur photography club's monthly, Fotograficky Obzor. The club's annual book collected the best work of the year in each volume.

Bibliographic Details

Prague, Skarda, 1931-1941, 1946 and 1949. First editions of the complete set in 13 volumes. 10.75 x 8.5 inches. Over 800 full-page black and white photographs reproduced in photogravure plus introductory text pages and ads (in the first nine volumes). Bound in original cloth and paper-covered boards. All volumes in Czech, some with English, German and French. The first six volumes feature covers with avant-garde designs by Karel Teige. Vols. IX and X, published under occupation, bear the alternative title "Ceska fotografie."

About the Photographers

Among the photographers in these volumes are Josef Sudek, Jaroslav Krupka, Jindrich Styrsky, Frantisek Drtikol, Alois Zych, Karel Plicka, Jaroslav Seifert, R. Sima, K. Muller, J. Tutsch, and many others. The images in these books document the transition within Czech photography from the earlier Pictorialist period to the emergence of Czech modernism. The most notable of the Pictorialists were Frantisek Drtikol; who used Art Deco models, dramatic lighting and props adopted from the theatre, as well as heavy symbolism in his photographs of nudes; D.J. Ruzicka, who worked in Czechoslovakia and the United States; and Josef Sudek, known as the "Poet of Prague." The new Czech photography, heavily influenced by Russian and German constructivism, first emerged in the early 1920s. The emphasis on graphic design and typography characteristic of this period is readily evident in the advertisements at the end of the early volumes. Everything considered, Czech publications are among the most interesting and creative of the inter-war years.

The Books









1941 Ceska Fotografie Pamatky Cech a Moravy (Monuments of Bohemia and Moravia)

Published while under occupation, this volume displays a number of significant differences from others in the series: a more focused subject matter (buildings --both urban and in bucolic rural settings, architectural details, statues, monuments, etc.); the inclusion of multiple images by the same photographer; a lack of images by the best known Czech amateurs; and relatively few modernist images resulting in a substantially more pictorialist tone.  Notably lacking is any sense of the war or occupation. A very subtle piece of propaganda.