Prague – Sentimental Journey

I went to this city still greatcoated in the Cold War after being seduced by the peculiar melancholy radiating from the photographs of Josef Sudek. The Czech artist’s work was introduced to me by my Fotoklasse teacher, Rudolf Lichtsteiner, who in turn had met Sudek in 1967. Looking for the famous studio, used from 1927 to 1976 by Prague’s foremost visual chronicler – who had magically mastered the handling of large-plate cameras despite having lost an arm in the First World War – I found it destroyed by a blaze. The building, erected in the second half of the 19th century when art photography was en vogue, had been the subject of so many of Sudek’s photographs that I could still recognize the backdrop of the still lifes I knew. Through the charred wood I could see shelves with ruined books and stopwatches blackened by smoke and grime. It was time to move on.