Josef Sudek: Topography of Ruins. Prague 1945 (Paris)

7 November – 14 December 2018
Centre tchèque de Paris
18 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France

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 exhibition has moved to Paris from Rome, Milan, Düsseldorf and Prague and it will later move to Wrocław.

Sudek Project
Sudek Project

„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

Poster JPG
A5 Postcard PDF
Opening Invitations JPG, PDF
A4 Flyer with texts PDF in French


Photographer: Josef Sudek
Curators: Mariana Kubištová, Vojtěch Lahoda, Katarína Mašterová
Author of the New Prints: Vlado Bohdan
Video: Adéla Kremplová
Exhibition Design: Barbara Zedková a Lenka Mrzílková (Studio Miaow)
Mounting of Photographs: Tereza Cíglerová, Kateřina Doležalová, Barbara Gajewská, Petra Šemíková
Graphic Design: Martin Groch a Tim+Tim
Translation to French: Lada Billard, Tereza Křikavová
Production: Tereza Koucká, Katarína Mašterová, Martin Pavlis, Veronika Řeháčková
Acknowledgements: Adam Havlík, Markéta Janotová, Jitka Zámorská

Tuesday, 6 November 2018 at 7 pm. Opening will be attended by the Sudek Project team members, the curator Katarína Mašterová and Martin Pavlis from the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Guided Tour:
Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 7 pm – with the curator of the exhibition Katarína Mašterová from the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, in English.

Centre tchèque de Paris, 18 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 1 pm – 6 pm

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The exhibition is part of the Photo Saint-Germain and the Paris Photo OFF programme.