Josef Koudelka (Czech, b. 1938)

Born in Moravia, Josef Koudelka made his first photographs while a student in the 1950s. In 1961, shortly after having started his career as an aeronautical engineer, Koudelka also began photographing Gypsies in Czechoslovakia and theatre representations in Prague. It was not until 1967 that he fully dedicated his time to photography. The following year, Koudelka photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague, publishing his photographs under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisals. In 1969, he was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Gold Medal for those photographs.

Koudelka left Czechoslovakia seeking political asylum in 1970 and shortly thereafter joined Magnum Photos. In 1975, he brought out his first book Gypsies, and in 1988, Exiles. Since 1986, he has worked with a panoramic camera and issued a compilation of these photographs in his book Chaos in 1999. Koudelka has had more than a dozen books of his work published, including Invasion Prague 68 most recently in 2008.

He has won significant awards such as the Prix Nadar (1978), a Grand Prix National de la Photographie (1989), a Grand Prix Cartier-Bresson (1991), and the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1992). Significant exhibitions of his work have been held at the Art Institute of Chicago; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography, New York; the Hayward Gallery, London; the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam; the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo;  and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.

Image on the right: Josef Koudelka, 1972 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos