email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEarly ExposuresEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGoing Into TownGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPostmodernismPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlaySame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts
This important book gives us the
history of Czech avant-garde photography from the founding of the independent
Czechoslovak state after the First World War until the forming of the Communist
government after the Second World War.
It has thirteen chapters, written by five experts, illustrated by
photographs selected by Vladimir Birgus.
The book also contains a chronology of Czech art for the period, and
fourteen pages of biographies of all the photographers included.
Czech photography was influenced by
other movements within art at the time, notably abstractionism, surrealism, and
the German Bauhaus movement, and photographers also responded to the dramatic
political events of the period. But
photography also developed its own characteristic styles, developing the
potentialities of its medium. This book
develops a powerful case for the innovative ideas of the Czech
photographers. The essays are helpful
as a guide, but it is the pictures themselves that of course are most
One of the most important figures
was Frantisek Drtikol, whose works from 1925-29 explore the combination of
geometrical forms with a female nude.
His work is both sensuous and striking in its bold and rather
self-conscious juxtapositions of curves and straight lines of the human figure
posed amid cylinders, cubes, wires, poles and objects clearly created
specifically for the photograph. The
use of light and shadow in these images is especially skillful.
Another prominently photographer is
Jaroslav Rossler. Not only does he have
a couple of very impressive collages which combine images and print, but his
work dominates the chapter on Abstract and Nonfigurative Tendencies. These photographs, like Drtikols, play with
geometrical shape and light and shadow, and they do with with striking
Jaromir Funkes photography also
focuses on shapes, but is more naturalistic, using objects from everyday life
such as metal bowls and plates, a metal hose, and sheets of glass. Eugen Wiskovskys work is similar, featuring
eggs, metal pipes, a turbine, and an insulator, and discovering pleasing
abstract patterns. Many of the
photographers of this era were especially interested in architecture because it
provides wonderful examples of powerful lines and curves. One of the loveliest images is by Wiskovsky,
of two children sitting on a flight of stone steps, taken from above them, with
sunlight streaming in from the top of the picture. A little later in the book, we find a couple of breathtaking
landscapes by the same artist, one of a field of crops blown flat by the wind,
titled Disaster, and another of beautiful rolling hills with a city in the
background and the tops of trees in the foreground. Its the contrasting
textures of light that make these images so powerful.
Very different in their styles are
the works of photographers in the 1930s who take a socio-critical stance,
depicting the living and working conditions of the poor. It is a pity the book did not include more
examples of this work; of those photographers included, the portraits by
Jaromir Funke of a mother and daughter and another of a Beggar from Chust,
both from 1937, are impressive for the sympathy with which they show their subjects.
On the other hand, the book devotes
two chapters that feature surrealist photography, which may be more than enough
for most tastes. Karel Teige, Judrich
Heisler, and Jindrich Styrsky are the artists most heavily represented in the
chapter on collages and surrealism, and this work especially seems forced,
owing a heavy debt to Dali and Magritte.
More interesting from a contemporary perspective is the work in the
chapter on Surrealist Photography, of Vaclav Zykmund, whose bizarre self
portraits, one with his head entwined with black thread and the other with a
light bulb sticking out of his mouth, are surprisingly engaging. Some of
the pictures included in this chapter seem more bizarre and humorous
rather than surreal: Miroslav Haks haunting image of a dress hung from a large
barrow in a deserted courtyard (1943) falls in this category.
The period between the wars was of
great importance for artistic photography, as it started to establish itself as
a legitimate form in its own right. Czech Photographic Avant-Garde makes
clear the contributions of Czech photographers of the era, and shows their
relation to movements in the rest of contemporary art and popular culture. Its an excellent resource for anyone
interested in photography as an artistic medium, and maybe more importantly, it
provides a wonderful collection of images that will be unfamiliar to most
readers. Highly recommended.
© 2002 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island.
He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring
how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help
foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the