Josef Koudelka

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Born in Moravia (Czechoslovakia) in 1938, Josef Koudelka is one of the few photographers to have captured the entry of Soviet tanks into Prague in 1968. These shots, published for security reasons under the pseudonym P.P. (Prague Photographer), received the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award and were published, forty years later, in the famous Invasion Prague 68.

In 1970, Koudelka joined Magnum Photos. Fascinated by the world of exile and wandering, for many years he photographed the daily life of the Romany people of Central Europe. This work appeared in 1975 as Gypsies (a revised and enlarged edition was published in 2011), followed by Exiles in 1988. Koudelka’s images often evoke individuals cut off from everything, struggling with a disquieting world. His formal work on framing and horizontality brought him to the panoramic format in the 1980s.

After Piemonte (2009), Lime (2012), Wall (2013), The Making of Exiles and Industries (2017), published by Éditions Xavier Barral, the photographer continues with Ruines (2020), his long collaboration with the publishing house.

His photographs have been the subject of many exhibitions throughout the world, including C/O Berlin in 2017, MOMA and the International Center of Photography (New York), the Hayward Gallery (London), the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), and the Centre Pompidou (Paris).

He has received the Nadar Prize (1978), the Grand Prix national de la photographie (1989), the Grand Prix Cartier-Bresson (1991), the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1992), and the Czech Republic Medal of Merit (2002). In 2012, Josef Koudelka was named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.

He lives in Paris and Prague.

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