Josef Sudek: Topography of Ruins (Düsseldorf)
25 January – 29 March, 2018
Bismarckstraße 90, 40210 Düsseldorf, Germany
In 1945, immediately after the end of the Second World War, Josef Sudek (1896–1976) took to the streets of Prague to document the damage sustained by the city. This endeavor produced a unique series of almost four hundred photographs, both documentary and artistic in nature, depicting the ravaged buildings, dismantled statues and the air raid and fire precautions of the time. Today, this collection of negatives is housed at the Czech Academy of Sciences' Institute of Art History in Prague. The current exhibition presents forty newly-made prints of these images which have never been exhibited before. The Galerie Gerhart-Hauptmann-Haus in Düsseldorf hosts the premiere of this exhibition project which will then travel in the same format to Milan, Rome and Warsaw. An expanded version of the exhibition will subsequently be presented in Prague during the summer of 2018.
„Throughout almost all of the war, Prague was spared destruction from air raids – air raids did not strike Prague until 1945. Sudek’s photographs mainly reflect two historical events of that year. The first of those took place on February 14, 1945, when Allied aircraft mistakenly bombed Prague, causing the destruction of historical monuments chiefly to the south of the historical city center (the Prague neighborhoods of Nové Město and Vinohrady). Here Sudek focused chiefly on the area around the Emmaus Monastery, which suffered particularly heavy damage. The interior of the ruined monastery in Sudek’s photographs finds a strange poetry among the rubble and remains, with light entering through the fallen ceilings. The second of these events, the so-called Prague Uprising of May 5–9, 1945, ushered in the era of peace and liberation, but at the price of the fatal destruction of the historic Old Town Hall. Of the historical monuments which were destroyed, Sudek’s documentation focused mainly on the area of the Old Town Square as it returned to life after the war.
The third major theme of Sudek’s cycle of war-related photographs was the depot of confiscated statues and bells at Maniny, at the river port on the Vltava, in the Prague district of Holešovice where Sudek photographed church bells and statues which had been dismantled from Prague monuments and piled into accidental surrealist assemblages. This series of images also features photographs of empty pedestals in public places, which were stripped of “their” statues during the German Occupation, as well as of various landmarks, such as abandoned barricades and the fire water reservoirs that, for a considerable time, changed the face of many Prague squares.“
– from the text to the exhibition
Photographer: Josef Sudek
Curators: Mariana Kubištová, Vojtěch Lahoda, Katarína Mašterová
Author of the new prints: Vlado Bohdan
Video: Adéla Kremplová
Architecture: Barbara Zedková a Lenka Mrzílková (Studio Miaow)
Adjustace fotografií: Tereza Cíglerová, Kateřina Doležalová, Barbara Gajewská, Petra Šemíková
Graphic design: Martin Groch a Tim+Tim
Translations to German: Daniela Pusch, Christina Frankenberg
Translation to English: Barbora Štefanová
Production: Katarína Mašterová, Tereza Koucká, Simona Binková, Katja Schlenker
Acknowledgements: Simona Binková, Adam Havlík, Markéta Janotová, Adéla Kremplová, Tereza Koucká, Taťjana Langášková, Lenka Lindaurová, Jan Mlčoch, Martin Pavlis, Veronika Řeháčková, Jitka Štětková, Jitka Zámorská
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 at 7pm. Opening will be attended by the photographer Vlado Bohdan.
Saturday, 17 February 2018 at 4:30pm, guided tour of the exhibtion within Düsseldorf Photoweekend with the historian Adam Havlík (English/German).
Sunday, 18 February 2018 at 2:30pm, guided tour of the exhibtion within Düsseldorf Photoweekend with the historian Adam Havlík (English/German).
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 7pm, lecture by the curator Mariana Kubištová with the title „Josef Sudek, the origin and historical context of the collection of photographs depicting Prague in 1945.“ (Free entry, the lecture will be held in German.)
Opening times of the Gallery of Gerhart-Hauptmann-Haus:
Mo, Wed 10am – 5pm
Tue, Thu 10am – 7pm
Fri 10am – 2pm
The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Stiftung Gerhart-Hauptmann-Haus, the Czech Centre Düsseldorf, the Düsseldorf Photoweekend and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.