“From My Window”: The Late Work of André Kertész and Josef Sudek

ONE

Within the span of a year, 1915-1916, two young men who were to become among the greatest photographers of the 20th century suffered devastating wounds in World War One. Both fought on the Italian Front for the soon to be defeated, Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. Josef Sudek of Bohemia and André Kertész of Hungary both sustained severe wounds to their right arms. Kertész’ arm was paralyzed for some time but it was saved. Josef Sudek’s wound was not as severe but gangrene set in, and his arm was amputated. Both young men subsequently spent several years in therapeutic recovery at military facilities. And both were left with deep psychic scars that had a profound influence on their temperament as well as on their work.

Josef Sudek with his large format camera.

Andre Kertesz: Self-Portrait in His Apartment, SX-70.

Ten years later, while touring with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Sudek wandered away from the company during a concert in southern Italy. The performance was near the town where he had been wounded. His biographer Sonja Bullaty, a survivor of Auschwitz and a noted photographer herself, quotes him:

… In the dark I got lost, but I had to search. Far outside the city toward 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 its place. They had bought me into it that 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, and had to give up my bookbinding trade. The Philharmonic people apparently even made the police look for me but I somehow could not get myself to return from this country. I turned up in Prague some two months later. They didn’t reproach me, but from that time on, I never went anywhere, anymore, and I never will. What would I be looking for when I didn’t find what I wanted to find?”

Sudek Photo Biography by Sonja Bullaty.

A few years after being wounded, Sudek took up photography, at first in the war veterans’ home, then in and around the cafes of Prague. An early subject for his camera was the final construction stages of St. Vitus Cathedral.

Sudek: St. Vitus Cathedral Under Construction.

Sudek never married; he lived most of his life with a sister dedicated to assisting him and who continued to live in his wooden bungalow/atelier/darkroom years after his death in 1976. Sudek never traveled widely after the traumatic search for the lost arm and he spent the remainder of his life photographing Prague and its environs.

André Kertész returned to his native Hungary after the war and continued photographing friends, family and village life, subjects he had documented as a young man before the war’s outbreak. In 1925 he moved to Paris where he lived and worked for the next eleven years, becoming one of the most important photo-journalists of the time (principally for VU magazine), shooting the street life, parks, cafes and artist ateliers of the city. Along with fellow countryman Brassai he captured the complex social and cultural milieu of his newly adopted home. Much as he loved the city, he remained an outsider and with the promise of new work in the United States and the growing Nazi threat to Jews at home, he emigrated again, this time to New York City where he and his wife, Elizabeth, lived the rest of their lives.

Kertész, in Paris and New York City, and Sudek in Prague, spent many of their most productive years in the best tradition of the street photographer cum flaneur. Yet in substantive ways both remained loners. Sudek’s circle of friends consisted mainly of a few literary pals and musicians; on Tuesday evenings he hosted a listening party of phonograph records culled from his extensive collection of classical music. Kertész and Elizabeth, conversely, were a society of two; they never felt integrated into the New York art scene. Having been classified as an enemy alien during the early part of WWII, his photographic activities were closely monitored, although he and Elizabeth gained US citizenship in 1944. Even after the war, his considerable European reputation garnered him nothing more than a fifteen-year post-war stint as an architectural photographer for the Condé Nast magazine House and Garden.

Kertész became embittered about this lack of recognition in the United States, a condition that was only partly ameliorated when newly appointed head of the Department of Photography at MOMA, John Szarkowski, offered him a one-man show in 1964. By this time Josef Sudek had become a highly regarded, if eccentric, presence in the art photography world of Prague.

A documentary film from 1963 by Evald Strom, photographed by Jan Spata, follows Sudek through the streets and into the parks and woods of Prague. The intimate footage of this lone and wounded lion going about the work of setting up his enormous view camera (up to 12×16 inches) is intensely moving. The video’s resolution is poor, the voice-over of Sudek is not subtitled, but it is a rare glimpse into his world. The images speak for themselves, but a camera assistant on my current film, Andy Kugler, helped provide information on the two parts of the documentary Zit Svuj Zivot (Living Your Life).  Sudek’s enigmatic comments express his efforts to photograph a flower, and then of a large group of photos of the “Magic Garden” of his friend, architect Otto Rothmayer. The sprinklers in this garden, especially when backlit by the sun, enthralled Sudek. Of the image of an old lamp he says “This is a celebrated lamp; it holds a lot of memories.” He does not elaborate. The rest of the film shows him searching for images in the woods:

Its subdued tone and pace reflects the studied calm that pervades all of Sudek’s photography, work that, as the years passed, became more and more intimate. Trees, flowers, still life studies of paper and glass, bread and eggs, frost patterns on a window, became more and more the substance of his work. Human portraits all but vanished.

Kertész’ photos from the earliest days in Hungary and forward, reflect an almost Truffaut-like celebration of human intimacy. Other work, especially in Paris, reflected the modernist compositional conceits of the Bauhaus and of VU magazine’s oft-times surrealist photojournalism. Here is a short video that offers a glimpse at some of Kertész’ most famous images. The last thirty seconds are SX-70 images in color. It is this late work, however, and the similar-themed black and white images of Sudek, that I will look at here:

TWO

In the late 70s, according to differing versions of the story, André Kertész was given, by either the Polaroid Corporation’s Eelco Wolf or by musician/photo collector Graham Nash, a then new instant camera, the Polaroid SX-70. Nash especially was aware of the melancholy that overwhelmed Kertész and of his reluctance to venture far from his apartment. Unlike Sudek who worked with large format cameras and mostly made contact prints, Kertész always preferred smaller hand cameras. His first one was an ICA box camera.

ICA Aviso, Kertesz' first camera.

As a photographer in WWI he was given a Goers Tenax and after his arrival in Paris he bought the 35mm Leica that became his signature camera. But late in life, after initially rejecting the SX-70 as a mere toy, Kertész became fascinated with the “notebook” quality of its instant images.

During WWII both photographers were largely inactive in the world outside their homes, Sudek because of the Nazi Occupation of Prague and his fear of photographing in public, and Kertész because of his enemy alien status. Both artists turned inward and began personal photography in their confined quarters. In 1952, Kertész and Elizabeth moved to #2 Fifth Avenue. Their twelfth floor apartment had a small terrace that commanded a view of Washington Square Park directly below, and Kertész had a broad unimpeded view to the south and west. He began a series of work from his windows and terrace.

Sudek’s Prague quarters consisted of a small, turn-of-the-century, wooden bungalow sandwiched like a dollhouse between two taller apartment buildings. For decades he lived, entertained and worked there, all the while his personal papers growing into huge piles. The clutter of his personal surroundings belied the stark simplicity and clean lines of his work. Kertész’ apartment also began to fill with his archives and papers and after the death of his beloved Elisabeth of lung cancer in 1977, Kertész became even more of a recluse.  As the last decades of their respective lives approached, each man in his own way developed an introspective style, devoid of humans, where quotidian objects and chotchkes became the stand-ins for people.

Here is the final part of a BBC documentary made in 1982. Kertész is interviewed in his apartment surrounded by the accumulated small objects that became his last models. He talks about the new SX-70:

The little Italian blown glass bust that became the metaphor for his deceased wife was found in the window of a nearby Brentano’s Bookstore on 8th Street.

Kertesz; Italian Blown Glass—"Elizabeth."

Several months later Kertész found a second bust and the Polaroids he made of the two glass figures became a tribute to the primacy of his marriage. Kertész placed the busts on the inside sill of his windows and photographed them as well as other small objects, in differing compositions and in changing light. He made hundreds of these Polaroids over the next few years.

Kertesz: Objects in His Window, SX-70.

Kertesz: Objects in His Window, SX-70.

I visited Kertész in this apartment shortly after I completed American Gigolo in 1979. He showed me dozens of these square SX-70 photos. My wife, Carol, and I had begun to collect photography several years before and we had one of Kertész’ small, vintage, contact prints from the Hungary period.

Kertesz: "Sweeping Down" Esztergom, 1917.

Kertész showed me a cigar box full of dozens more of these platinum prints. He was willing to sell them to dealers and collectors, but refused to part with any of the Polaroids.  At the time, the few dealers that even knew of this work had pretty well marginalized it as the last gasp of a bitter and lost, once-great master. Time and a keener understanding have elevated the status of this final work. A book of the SX-70 work has been published:

Amazon.com –André Kertész: The Polaroids link

Robert Gurbo is biographer and the curator of the Kertész estate. His introduction gives insight to the mindset of Kertész in these final months. Since 1939 Kertész had suffered bouts of vertigo and dizziness, and darkroom work became all but impossible for him. He was at the service of his printer, Igor Bahkt. That sense of immediacy a photographer gets by working in the darkroom (or today at the computer with Photoshop) came again to Kertész with the Polaroid process as he became witness to the developing prints and could alter exposure, focus and composition  shot to shot, even as he evolved the definitive version of an image. Further, according to Gurbo:

The immediacy and intimacy of the Polaroid process afforded André the opportunity to explore a rawness of feeling in which he may not have otherwise engaged. The SX-70 gave him the privacy to work through his anger, melancholy, and reveries.

When I spent the afternoon with him, Kertész seemed obsessed with the many decades of oblivion in America, his longing for Paris, and the medical incompetence he felt had contributed to Elizabeth’s death. A short time later, when I learned about his youthful war injury and his many nomadic periods, I wondered how much of a toll it all had taken on his psyche.

THREE

A life of quiet privacy did not seem as alienating to Sudek. Perhaps it was because that despite the trauma of the lost arm that made him ever a reluctant social being, he was loved and respected in the smaller art world of Prague. Late in life he received commissions, public and private, for work that documented the city. His cramped home and studio, which had been abandoned to slow decay after his and then his sister’s death, was restored in 1990. The wall and fence at the street, as well as the gardens, were given a makeover. Because so much of his late work had been in his own studio with views out his windows, it was easy to re-configure the building and the garden from photographs of Sudek’s own work. There is a video documentary Photographer in the Garden, also in Czech,  showing the re-construction of the house as a Sudek museum and gallery for contemporary work that I had planned to include in this essay but it was recently disabled on YouTube. But here is a site that has information and some photo documentation, followed by three photos below.

www.sudek-atelier.cz

Early construction of studio restoration.

Entrance from the street.

Overhead view of the small studio and garden, sandwiched between apartments.

I had written a commentary on this video and though it is not now available I hope that these few notes will still be helpful. In the video Jan Mlcoch talks about the bungalow that had been Sudek’s home since 1927. Then, biographer and assistant Anna Farova, sitting in front of a restored window of the studio, says:

This is where for 14 years… Sudek created an unusually large body of work. This window that was in fact a barrier between life inside and out, also served as a canvas for rain, frost, and snow. That’s where I began to see Sudek as a philosopher or meditative person for whom such an absolute thing like this window was enough to step into the world’s consciousness.

Mloch shows a montage of Sudek’s St. Vitus Cathedral images as well as ones of “The Magic Garden.” Farova returns to show photos of the clutter of Sudek’s studio, views from his window and exterior views of the garden. Sudek’s work in this small studio and at its windows reflects all the purity and distilled sensibility of a classical still life painting. There is no immediate trace of personal biography or of a loaded emotional subtext as there often is with Kertesz. The work extols the simpler tonal beauty of black and white.

Sudek: Last Roses.

Sudek: Untitled: Egg in Bowl.

Kertesz: Collected Objects, SX-70.

Sudek: Watermelon Slice.

The Kertész Polaroids, conversely, are almost primal screams of emotion and sentiment—if not at times, sentimentality. This has been the critical attitude toward some of this work.

Kertesz: From My Window, SX-70.

These twilight years’ images by two of the 20th centuries most regarded photographers radiate a common thematic affinity, while avoiding a shared emotional one. Personal taste and aesthetics play a large role here, it seems to me, whether you find emotion and beauty in one vision or the other, or in both. In any case, the intense personal expression of these two contrasting bodies of work creates a surprising and stimulating dialogue for any viewer willing to enter into their quiet enclave.

Sudek: From My Window.

11 Responses to ““From My Window”: The Late Work of André Kertész and Josef Sudek”

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  • Fascinating read, thanks. Two of my favourite photographers.

  • John, I really enjoy your blog. I’m really happy that Bob Primes turned me onto it. It’s really a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

  • thanks for this post. I am intrigued by the subject of how trauma and deep life experience can drive creativity and shape our “looking”- that is the way we look. I wonder in the case of Andre Kertesz and Josef Sudek if they ever spoke in interviews about the challenges or new revelations that ensued from these wounds.

  • This was a fascinating blog that drew parallels between the work and lives of two photographers I have always loved but never before connected. I was reminded of a Sudek photograph that I have always regretted not buying in Prague more than ten years ago. It was a still life made at his window not so unlike those that you have reproduced here. Thank you for this insightful pairing and for introducing me to the Polaroids of Kertesz. I am off to buy the book!

  • Thanks for a great article on two exceptional photographers. I discovered Kartez a year ago, when i visited an exhibition of his at The Photographers Gallery. It was fascinating to find out more about this exceptional photographer and particularly interesting to learn about his later still life projects. They reveal how careful observation, something lacking in so many of our lives, can transform the mundane into the beautiful. It is also fascinating how these photos of inanimate objects are imbued with the artists emotion. Lastly i will take a great quote about art from this essay, ‘the camera is my tool, though it i give reason to everything around me’. For me this is an apt reminder that film is my tool, it does not master me, i must master it, and with it i communicate.

  • Rose Fadem-Johnston

    Thank you for the introduction to these photographers. The window photos are absolutely breathtaking in a way only an expansive landscape or something miniature can be. The power and emotion of the Kertesz Polaroid so clearly illustrates the capacity of a simple visual to emotionally connect with the viewer as well as how deeply the image reflects the photographer as much as the subject.

  • Interesting. Round about 1968 I gave Andre Kertesz a copy of Sudek’s little book of window pictures which I had bought at the Czech pavilion of Montreal’s Expo 67. I thought he might like it, although I am not sure Andre was wildly interested in the work of other photographers. The Kertesz estate tells me it wasn’t in his book collection at the time of his death, so he probably passed it on to someone else. Right now I am writing an essay on Sudek’s use of the Kodak Panoram — I figured out how to get a Kodak going by looking at his contact prints. Both wonderful photographers, who did strong work throughout their careers.

    John’s reply: Geoffrey, many thanks for your anecdote about Kertesz. If he were interested in any other photographer, it would have been Sudek. One can see in the work what shared aesthetics they had. Your book on Sudek’s Panoram sounds like an important addition to his studies.

    • John, I thought that Andre might be interested in Sudek, but in a way Sudek was much more of a romantic. I am only doing a 2,000-word essay on his use of the Panoram as one contribution to a catalogue being published by the Art Gallery of Ontario. In a way, the Panoram got him out into the world of modernity, all over Prague. I think the Prague panorama book is one of the great photo books, and the last 85 or so vertical panoramas are totally brilliant and original pictures. Because the camera was not capable of long exposures, it kind of forced him out of his enclosed, interior world. I have a friend in New Jersey — Steve Zane, who made a few platinum prints for Sudek.

  • John == sorry abut the format but here is the piece I have written on Sudek. Best, GJ

    Josef Sudek and the Panorama Geoffrey James

    With her usual mixture of acerbity and honesty, Louise Bourgeois once remarked that artists are not interested in each other’s ideas, but only in their techniques. This is almost certainly a half-truth, but in the case of photographers, it has particular resonance. Photography is the child of technology, and photographers are entirely dependent upon industrially-made materials and machines. The camera, as Paul Strand once observed, is indifferent to the feelings of its operator. The question of how photographers impose their own subjectivity onto a medium that leaves no autographic trace is one that cannot be answered easily, but what is certain is that technical questions have significant aesthetic ramifications. Gear matters.
    Sudek originally subscribed to the tenets of Pictorialism, an essentially amateur movement with its late-Victorian aesthetic of broadly-massed subjects, gauzy light and an Arcadian subject matter that was strangely at odds with the convulsive social and technological changes of the early twentieth century. Pictorialism, with its artisanal printing techniques, did its best to hide the industrial origins of the medium. As a professional, Sudek was obliged to have a wider range than that, and as a well-connected member of cosmopolitan artistic milieu that looked primarily to Paris, he was well aware of what was going on in the vanguard of the visual arts. He was clearly interested in surrealism and cubism, and his commercial work of the 30’s evidenced a familiarity with the aesthetics of the ‘New Objectivity’, with its emphasis on realism, precision and strong diagonal compositions
    But it wasn’t until he made the decision in 1940 to make no more enlargements and confine himself to the contact print that Sudek began the long-arching, personal cycles of images that have come to define his style. The decision was apparently made after he came across a 30 x 40 cm, turn-of-the-century contact print of a sculpture in Chartres Cathedral. The move may also have been imposed by circumstances – Prague was occupied by the Nazis, and commissions stopped and it was no longer safe to walk the streets with a camera.. And so he worked for himself, with view cameras of all sizes, often depicting interiors infused with his own subjectivity. The contact print, with its capacity to show the world in grain-less tones of subtle gradation, seemed to accord with his own sense of slow, careful craftsmanship. His subjects increasingly seemed to exist in a private, enclosed world.
    The first time I came across Sudek’s work was in 1967, in a book purchased at the Czech Pavilion of Montreal’s Expo 67, of photographs made through the window of his studio between 1940 and 1954. Conditioned as I was to the modernist narrative that dominated the North American history of photography, the photographs seemed wonderful, but with a slightly suspicious air of romanticism about them. They spoke of conditions of light – damp, frosty, deliquescent, crepuscular, even nocturnal — in a series of remarkable variations of what could be seen from his modest studio, which was really a shed in a walled garden. In his A Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera, poses the question of why Beethoven, at the peak of his career, became so fascinated with composing variations, the “most superficial of musical forms.” Kundera’s answer is that the variation leads to the endless inner variety that lies hidden in each thing. “Variation form,” writes Kundera,is the form in which contentration is brought to it maximum.” The variation, and the style of the variation, become more important than what is varied. In the case of Sudek, the infinitely varied surfaces of the studio windows become the occasion for the creation of mere atmosphere, an expression of the artist’s essentially romantic sensibility.
    Sudek’s discovery and use of the panoramic camera probably mitigated against his more romantic tendencies, even it did not stop him from a being a self-proclaimed Romantic. As an amateur before the First World War, he had heard about the Kodak Panoram, but he did not get his hands on one until 1949, by which time the camera was obsolete and Kodak was no longer making roll-film for its 10×30 cm image. The Panoram, which was introduced in 1899, is radically different from a conventional camera. The most important difference is that the film is on an arc , and a pivoting lens attached to a slot scans the film . This runs counter to all the notions of Renaissance single-point perspective; the action of the lens most closely resembles the turning of the head. And while the photographic image has nothing to do with the way we perceive, I have a slightly irrational belief that the panoramic shape comes closer to the horopter of human vision, more closely duplicating our peripheral sense of inhabiting space. On rare occasions, painters have managed to create this sense of head-turning perspective, most notably Turner in his Rome, View from the Vatican Accompanied by La Fornarina, Preparing his Pictures for the Decoration of the Loggia, first exhibited in 1820, where the curving balcony would be similarly rendered by a scanning lens. (This “distortion” can be replicated by anyone rapidly swinging their head from side to side and observing the curving of the walls around them.)
    Like most photographers who approach the panoramic camera. Sudek’s initial reflex was that it would be ideal for grand panoramic landscapes –in his case the Beskid Mountains, which he had visited with his friend, the painter Emil Filla. who happened to work in a long horizontal format influenced by Japanese scroll painting. “When I was in the mountains, I really wished I had one of them,” Sudek said. “ When you use a camera like that, your whole sense of space changes and the perspectives are different. The results always surprised me. The thing that was most important then turned out to be not to be so important after all. It was only later that I learned the right way to use it. I had to train myself to see how the camera saw.”
    Before he could do that, Sudek had to get the camera to work. It took him a long time to solve the problem of film. Since roll-film was no longer made, he had to cut strips from large sheets of German film, usually outdated. At first he was confined to a single shot, loaded in the darkroom, and unloaded upon his return, a testament to both his tenacity and patience. Then his friend, the architect Otto Rothmayer, the talented student of the great Croatian architect, Jose Plecnik, came up with the idea of a changing bag, so that film could be loaded on the road, although it is hard to imagine how a one-armed photographer, however dexterous, could manage such a complicated operation alone. (Sudek seems usually to have worked with an assistant.)
    The camera had other idiosyncrasies: only two shutter speeds and a view-finding system that was at best approximate. An inscribed V on the top of the camera gave a fairly good idea of the ends of the scan – and this is apparent in the precision with which Sudek worked in complex architectural spaces – but the horizontal limits of the image, especially the top, were much harder to judgeas can be seen, for example in his photograph of the Furstenberg Palace (page to come). Another interesting problem – although it was certainly not a problem for Sudek – was that there was no real precedent for using the camera. The Spanish-Venetian fashion designer Mariano Fortuny used a Panoram to make photographs of the Venetian lagoon, and the French pictorialist Constant Puyo made stylish landscapes with it, but essentially the camera was for well-heeled tourists. Teddy Roosevelt was the most famous owner of a Panoram, and probably not untypical

    Although Sudek did some work in the Beskid Mountains – he started photographing there and was to return to the natural landscape – he must have come to the conclusion that the camera in fact worked well, perhaps even better, in the urban environment, especially in spaces with multiple points of entrances and exits. In 1956 he began the huge project of systematically photographing his beloved Prague. Photographic historians have described the Panoram as a bulky and cumbersome camera. In fact, although it is roughly the size of a shoe-box and tricky to load, it is lighter than many modern DSLR’s and is very much an ambulatory machine, especially since the sheets of film would have been stored in a light-proof box rather than heavy, bulky wooden film holders.
    Sudek worked on the Prague project for three years. The Panoram seems to have propelled him from his interior world, since among things, it was incapable of making the long exposures necessary for so many of his interiors and low-light subjects. The book that resulted, Panoramas of Prague, printed in an astonishing run of 15,000 copies, and designed by his friend Rothmayer, is his masterpiece, containing no fewer than 284 of what he called his “sausage-long” views of the city.
    Not even the Czech curator Anna Farova, who devoted many years of her life to organizing and reflecting upon the work of Sudek, has been able to discern anything resembling a schema to the sequencing of the Prague book. It begins, conventionally enough, with views across the Vlatva river, with the silhouette of city against the sky. The second and third plates of the book are from the same viewpoint, only taken in winter and full summer. Quickly it becomes apparent that the Prague panoramas, for all their formal rigour, are as much about light and atmospheric conditions as topography and architecture. While Atget chose to photograph Paris in the lambent light of early morning, Sudek seemed to thrive at dusk, or under darkening skies or in the foulest weather, although he may not have had much choice about this, given Prague’s climate. His Prague, mostly unpeopled, and thanks to socialism, remarkably free of traffic, starts to become an imaginary place, the creation of a photographer not entirely tethered to prosaic fact. Around plate 120, Sudek moves to the edge of town, a modern world of quarries and anonymous apartment buildings, smokestacks and gasometers, tramlines and power pylons. There are occasionally people in his photographs, although mostly they seem to fill the anonymous role of Figure in Landscape He returns to the heart of the city, but again is back in the outer zones, at funfairs and humble street corners that recall the light-industrial edge of an older Paris. The books is full of surprises – a morning photograph of a pond in the Park of the Royal Hunt (check title in English) that recalls Atget’s early-morning rambles in the Park at St Cloud. His photograph of the Villa in the Game Park at Hezda, with its offset approach path that gives the picture a spinning energy, could convince us that we are looking at the work of the 20th century Italian architect Aldo Rossi rather than the 16th century Palace of the Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol. (Ref to come). The same ability to energize the often static frame of the panoramic format can be seen in the heavily atmospheric Early Evening in the Seminary Garden circa 1950-1955,(Page ref) where the picture is held together by a rain-slicked path that descends magisterially across the picture.
    The greatest surprise of Prague Panoramas comes at the end when the reader has to turn the book ninety degrees to look at 24 vertical panoramas. In horizontal mode, the curved panoramic can be treacherous. Walls photographed perpendicularly can assume the shape of a cigar, and anything rectilinear presents a challenge. But in vertical mode, it is extraordinarily difficult to avoid the camera’s inherent distortion. Somehow Sudek had succeeded in hiding the machine’s defects. These remarkable manipulations of space entirely conceal the fact the film plane is curved; he seems to have solved a different visual problem in every photograph – a piece of virtuosic legerdemain that recalls the French novelist Georges Perec’s feat in La Disparition of writing a book without the most common letter in the alphabet.

    I have never been to Prague. It remains for me an imaginary city, an amalgam of the early novels of Kundera and Josef Svorecky, with a few passages from W.G. Sebald’s brilliant Austerlitz, and, of course, Sudek’s enchanted perambulations with the Panoram. When I eventually get there, I suspect I will find sex shops and MacDonalds, as well as hordes of my former countrymen not always on their best behaviour. I know I will not find Sudek’s Prague, because it is as much a fiction as the writing – the amalgam of a peculiar machine and a particular, melancholy-sweet sensibility.

    The author would like to thank Sandra Phillips of San Francisco MOMA for her generous gift of Sudek’s book of Prague panoramas.

    .

  • Dear John, Just wanted to let you know that the Sudek book is out and is very nicely produced (abt 300 pages). Josef Sudek, The legacy of a Deeper Vision, ed M Sutnik, Hirmer books. Cheers, Geoffrey

    JOHN’S REPLY: Thanks, Geoffrey. I see that the book is an exhibition catalog for a current show at the AGO in Ontario and that you are a contributor. I have ordered it and look forward to losing myself again into the haunting world of Sudek.

  • I would love to see “Zit Svuj Zivot” (Living Your Life) – but I’m having trouble finding it. (The YouTube video you link to in this article is no longer there.) Do you know where it can be found/seen?

    JOHN’S REPLY: Sorry, Susan, sometimes these things just get disabled. Have you tried a Google or YouTube search. Someone else may have more recently posted it.

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