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Czech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918--1948 Hardcover – Jun 21 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 311 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (June 21 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262025167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262025164
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 3.2 x 27.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #791,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Library Journal

Beginning in the 1920s, art photographers of Eastern Europe were influenced by such avant-garde movements as Constructivism, Dadaism, and Surrealism. These artists were especially interested in experimentation, using new forms of photo-based image making, including photograms, collage, photomontage, and abstraction. In turn, they used this new visual language to communicate political ideology to the masses, helping to make photography a powerful means of expression. The avant-garde photography movement has been well documented with one exception: Czechoslovakia. Because Czechoslovakia was culturally isolated until the fall of its Communist regime in 1989, the work of many Czech avant-garde photographers has been omitted from most history texts. Edited by Birgus (Academy of Performing Arts, Prague), this volume offers the first comprehensive survey of early Czech avant-garde photography, helping to acknowledge the underrecognized artists who contributed to the avant-garde tradition. Beautifully illustrated with more than 300 duotone and color images, the book also includes art and artist chronologies, biographies, a bibliography, and an index. Given the award for Best Photographic Publication of 1999-2000 at the International Festival Primavera Fotogr fica in Barcelona, this book is recommended for all art and photography collections.
Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


...a stunning book whose images abduct the reader into a world most of us only see in dreams.

(Evan Rail The Prague Post)

A wonderful collection of images that will be unfamiliar to most readers. Highly recommended.

(Christian Perring, Ph.D. Metapsychology)

An unbelievable collection from some of the best relatively unknown photographers of the early avant-garde.

(Taylor Holland The Austin Chronicle)

Now translated into English, this important book...expands our knowledge of the history of photography of this critical period.

(B&W Magazine) cannot but be startled by the depth and importance of the Czech tradition.

(Mark Pohlad History of Photography)

The scholarship of the six contributors is formidable and will not soon be superseded.

(Alan G. Artner Chicago Tribune)

...this book reveals the body of work that paved the way for later Czech photographers.

(Mark Wojahn Rain Taxi Review of Books)

This remarkable collection will repay hours of study and belongs in the library of anyone who seriously studies modern photography.

(Choice Magazine)

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Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Hardcover
This landmark survey of Czech avant-garde photography is the first time we have seen how Central European experimentalists found the same mainstreams and explored many of the same byways as did their American and European cohorts. And yet, as the images in this book testify, almost every shot has a quality distinctive enough to be called Czech.
Czech photographers had a vision of modernity that resembled Bauhaus in its desire for a major houseclean of old forms, but avoided the Bauhaus's smothering insistence on theory first and reality later. The Czech vision was really many visions. We see aesthetic old friends here: pictorialism, picture poems, abstraction and its quasi-abstract variant called nonfiguration, social journalism, surrealism-and a home-grown movement named Poetism.
The text is an anthology of essays. They have a elbowy reach as they knock into each other introducing the period and movements; exploring the background of the photographers and their mutual influences on each other; and much more.
Photography came to Czechoslovakia well after film had been put onto rolls. They could spend their spare time thinking. It is tempting to compare the Czech efforts with the boundary-pushing experiments of North American and Western European photographers in the Twenties and Thirties. They were, after all, conducted almost simultaneously. Yet there is a clear difference in technique between images by Paul Strand, Minor White, Ansel Adams, and Edward Steichen, and their Czech counterparts named Jeromir Funke, Jindrich Styrsky, and Drahomir Ruzicka. The difference is largely due to the Czechs being essentially untrained, unlettered hobbyists with very little aesthetic theory to distract them, and therefore an ability to see objects and scenes on their own terms.
It shows.
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By A Customer on Oct. 17 2002
Format: Hardcover
First published as "Ceska fotograficka avantgarda 1918-1948," this book shows how great the photographers of Czechoslovakia of the first half of the 20th century were. They did not have digital techniques, but nevertheless produced wonderful art (as suggested by the original title of the exhibition, "Modern Beauty: Czech Photographic Avant-Garde 1918-1948"). I had heard of Frantisek Drtikol, Jaromir Funke, and Josef Sudek, but I had never seen a good sampling of their images before reading this book. New to me were artists such as Jindrich Heisler, Jaroslav Rossler, Karel Teige, and Eugen Wiskovsky. The authors must have carefully chosen the photographs published in the book from collections in Prague and elsewhere. Most of the photos are in black and white, but some are in color, and all are well reproduced. The text is illuminating, with discussion of the relationship of the Czech photographers' work to that of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Alexander Rodchenko, Man Ray, and other contemporaries. The chapters on "optical words," "hidden sources" (e.g., collages), and surrealism were the most interesting to me. Toward the back of the book, the chronologies, biographies, bibliography, and index are useful for future reference. I hope you purchase it!
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