Jan Saudek is the most reknown Czeck photographer in the world. His life is much like his work, tumultuous and free spirited. During WW2, because his father was a Jew, his family was persecuted by Germans. Many of died in concentration camps. Jan and his twin brother Karel were held in a children’s concentration camp located near the present Polish-Czech border. His work echoes the fact that he had a very limited childhood, with a repetitive cycle of photographing the same compositions, narratives and characters, a desire to create a child to adult world is suggested. The insistence of religious and erotic material places Saudek as an initiator of the censorship conversation, he uses the infamous “wall” in many of his images as a metaphor for these subject matters. This behaviour led to a huge backlash from the west in the 1990’s crucifying him for his erotic nature. Widely popular, he has had over 400 one-man shows, his photographs are included in the worlds most famous collections.
In 1977 he started hand tinting black and white prints, many portraits of painterly dream worlds inhabited by nudes/semi nude figures, and his signature style began to evolve; reminiscent of nineteenth century artists such as Balthud and Faucon. Saudeck has been Honored as a’Chevalier des Arts et Lettres’. The French director, Jerome de Missolz, also made a short film about him: “Jan Saudek – Photograph tchéque”. Some of the works of Jan Saudek have entered popular culture in the West, being used as covers for groups: Anorexia Nervosa (New Obscurantis Order), Soul Asylum (Grave Dancers Union), Daniel Lanois (For the Beauty of Wynona), and Beautiful South (Welcome to the Beautiful South).
His infamacy lives on, just last year, his Black Sheep & White Crow which features a semi-naked prepubescent girl was removed from the Ballarat International Foto Biennale on the eve of its opening on August 21, 2011 following child prostitution claims.
More information at www.saudek.com
Published April 27, 2012