Melding the intrinsic rituals of life, the provocative, disturbing, and sometimes controversial work of Czech photographer and artist Jan Saudek is internationally celebrated. Born in 1935 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, he is one of the world’s most prominent Czech photographers. With over 400 solo exhibitions, his distinctive approach continues to be a source of both inspiration and speculation. In fact, due to the sensitive and erotic nature of his work, Saudek has been the focus of censorship attempts in the past.
In 1949, he received his first camera, a Kodak Baby Brownie, and by 1952, after apprenticing with a photographer, began working in a print shop where he stayed until 1983. His photographs “The Knife” and “Fate Descends towards the River Leading Two Innocent Children” have graced the album covers of Daniel Lanois, For the Beauty of Wynona, and Soul Asylum’s Grave Dancers Union. In 1990, Saudek received the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters), one of the highest honors in France, in recognition of his service to culture, and sixteen years later, he was awarded the Artis Bohemiae Amicis from the Czech Ministry of Culture.
Casting straightforward perspectives on subjects ranging from virginal experimentation and the reenactments of the sexually perverse to the dogma of marriage and motherhood, Saudek leaves little to the imagination with his affluence of flesh-filled imagery. Perhaps best known for his beautiful hand-tinted style, additional themes of religion, war, childhood, and the ambiguity between man and woman are incorporated heavily into his work. To further your experience with Jan Saudek’s photography, visit his website’s curriculum vitae where he shares a number of deeply personal journal entries.