Josef Sudek and Photographic Documentation of Works of Art:
From a Private Art Archive to Representing a Cultural Heritage

The project undertaken by the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences is concerned with research into and presentation of the issues relating to the photographic documentation of art works, a subject that has hitherto been neglected in the Czech milieu. As a case study, it uses one of the most important collections of this type in the Czech lands, consisting of photographs by Josef Sudek. Photographic reproduction of the visual arts and architecture is in general a basic tool for making this part of the national cultural heritage accessible on both the specialist and lay levels. In this part of his oeuvre, Josef Sudek consciously went beyond the standards of his day and displayed his unique artistic approach in the routine trade of documentation.

The aim of the project is the comprehensive preservation, physical and digital conservation, specialist processing, evaluation, and presentation to the wider public of a collection comprising some 13 500 negatives and 6000 positives made by Josef Sudek, mostly dating from the period 1930–1960, which is kept in the collections of the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Apart from a few exceptions, this part of Sudek’s work has so far not been subject to specialist evaluation, nor has it been presented to the public. The collection has an undoubtable value not only as a record, as it is also valuable in that it contains many photographs of works by artists who are nowadays often forgotten. Josef Sudek’s approach to reproduction and documentary photographs will be presented especially in two selected collections – through photographs of those parts of Prague destroyed by the bombing raids of 1945, and through an analysis of the relationship between photographs and works of art in general, taking as an example his documentation of sculptural works. The entire collection will be made accessible in an online database, making it possible to reveal and carry out further research into both the known and the forgotten artistic heritage of the previous century.

The project is supported by the “Applied research and development of national and cultural identity Programme” (in short, “NAKI II”) operated by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, identification code DG16P02M002. Operating period: 2016–2020.

sudek project
Project team

Johana Bártová
Kateřina Černá
Jan Douša
Adam Havlík
Amy Hughes
Zuzana Krišková
Kateřina Lahodová
Vojtěch Märc
Borek Smažinka
Stanislav Tryputen

Klára Kudláčková
Alena Michálková
Kateřina Stránská
Viktorie Šmídová
Šárka Těšíková

Graphic design:
Martin Groch, Tim+Tim

web coding:



PR "Josef Sudek: In the Shadow of the Cathedral" PDF
PR "Instant Presence" Conference PDF
PR "Josef Sudek: In the Studio" Exhibition PDF


Tý 10.6. 2016
Česky Rozhlas Vltava, Mozaika 30.6.2016
Česká televize, Události v kultuře 1.7.2016 30.11.2016
Česká televize, Události v kultuře 2.12.2016
Český Rozhlas Vltava, Mozaika 6.12.2016 9.12.2016 25.12.2016
Bulletin UHS 1/2017, cut, June 2017
Czech Science 07/2017, documentary video
Art & Antiques 05/2018, artwork of the month
Respekt no. 22, 28.5.2018
Týden, 28.5.2018
Lidové noviny a online, 7.6.2018
Hospodářské noviny, 1.6.2018, 6.6.2018
Artmix České televize, 13.6.2018
ČT24 – Události v kultuře, Česká televize, 21.5.2018
Art+ video report, 20.7.2018
Lidové noviny, 1.8.2018
Artzóna České televize, 14.8.2018
Echo 24, 16.8.2018