Jan Saudek
1935, Prague, Czech Republic

Short biography
Because of his Jewish background, in WWII Saudek was held in a children’s concentration camp near the Polish border. He survived the war and worked in a photo lab. He was inspired in 1963 by Steichen’s Family of Man to try to become a serious art photographer. After his 1969 travel to the USA he returned to Prague. He was forced to work in a clandestine manner in a cellar, to avoid the attentions of the secret police, as his work turned to themes of personal erotic freedom, and used implicitly political symbols of corruption and innocence.

From the late 1970s he gradually became recognised in the West as the leading Czech photographer. In 1983 the first book on his work was published in the English-speaking world. Following this, in 1984 the Communist authorities allowed him to cease working in a factory, and gave him permission to apply for a permit to work as an artist. In 1987 the archives of his negatives were seized by the police, but later returned.

His best-known work is noted for its hand-tintedportrayal of painterly dream worlds, often inhabited by nude or semi-nude figures surrounded by bare plaster walls or painted backdrops, frequently re-using identical elements. In this they echo the studio and tableaux works of mid nineteenth century erotic photographers, as well as the works of the painter Balthus, and the work of Bernard Faucon. Religious motives or the ambiguity between man and woman have also been some of his recurring themes. His work was the subject of attempts at censorship in the West during the 1990s. Saudek published 20 books, held over 400 exhibitions and is collected by all major musea in the world, including e.g. “Het Stedelijk Museum” in Amsterdam.

Recent exhibitions
In Focus Galerie Cologne, Flatfile Photography Gallery Chicago.

Top auction result
$ 10.894

Average auction results
$ 1.200 - $ 4.000
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