Josef Sudek: In the Dimness of the Cathedral
29 June – 30 August, 2016
Josef Sudek Studio
Újezd 30, Prague 1
Organised to mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of the globally renowned Czech photographer Josef Sudek (1896) and the 40th anniversary of his death (1976), the exhibition introduced previously non-exhibited and mostly unpublished photographs of Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral, loaned from the collection of the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Josef Sudek took the photographs between the late 1930s and approximately the end of World War II in 1945. This is not the well-known set of images of the cathedral under construction during the 1920s; these photographs were made during the wartime Protectorate period, are less known and have not yet been studied in depth. At the time, Sudek photographed the cathedral extensively over a prolonged period of time for the purposes of a pictorial monograph. In the end, the book was not released, but some of the images from the St. Vitus Cathedral cycle were published in Sudek’s pictorial books on Prague Castle and on Prague between 1945 and 1948. The subjects of the photographs from this cycle include views of St. Vitus Cathedral as a whole and in detail. The images show its interiors and exteriors, architectural details, decorations, furniture and equipment including various items of the cathedral treasure shown in a multitude of alternate takes and trial prints.
“They were reconstructing the interior of St. Vitus Cathedral. I was curious so I went to look inside. To my surprise, it was a whole different world in there. [...] I climbed up to the triforium. Up there I saw Charles IV. He was smiling. He was different than I knew him. The sculpture had a neutral light. And it was amazing. I thought before that it is not possible to take a photograph without the sun, that things can be managed only with the sunlight. [...] There was an atmosphere in the interior, but there was no atmosphere on the head of Charles IV. That head intrigued me more than the interior itself. I had no clue if it is even possible to photograph it.”
“I grew up near the town of Kutná Hora. When I saw the Gothic church there as a young boy, I stared at it like a young hare at the first snow. I wasn’t particularly well educated – I grew up surrounded by Gothic and I didn’t even know it…”
– Josef Sudek
Curators of the exhibition: Vojtěch Lahoda, Katarína Mašterová
Curator of the gallery: Lucie Mlynářová
Graphic design: Michal Smejkal – Studio Symbiont
Framing: Rámy Pasparty
Production: Lucie Mlynářová, Katarína Mašterová, Markéta Janotová
Translations: Peter Stephens
Conservation of the photographs: Tereza Cíglerová, Kateřina Doležalová, Petra Šemíková
Opening was accompanied by selected pieces of organ music from St. Vitus Cathedral, introduced by the musicologist Tomáš Slavický.
Acknowledgements: Martin Pavlis, Vlado Bohdan, Petr Zinke, Tomáš Slavický, Petr Helbich, Pavel Vančát, Mariana Šindelková, Taťána Petrasová, Rámy Pasparty
26/07 5pm – Guided tour of the exhibition with the curator Katarína Mašterová and art historian Mariana Dufková as a guest.
30/08 5pm – Guided tour of the exhibition with the curator Vojtěch Lahoda and art historian Taťána Petrasová as a guest.