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Josef Sudek (1896–1976)
Josef Sudek (1896–1976)

The Window of My Studio, 1940–1954

Josef Sudek (1896–1976)
The Window of My Studio, 1940–1954
gelatin silver contact print
signed and annotated in pencil (margin)
image: 9 x 6 7/8 in. (22.9 x 17.5 cm.)
sheet: 11 3/8 x 9 in. (28.9 x 22.9 cm.)
Light Gallery, New York;
acquired from the above by John M. Bransten, San Francisco, 1975;
by descent to the present owner.
Sonja Bullaty and Anna Fárová, Sudek, Clarkson N. Potter, New York, 1986, pl. 16.
Anna Fárová, Josef Sudek, Torst, Prague, 1995, p. 92.
Anna Fárová, Josef Sudek: The Window of My Studio, Torst, Prague, 2007, pl. 22.
Ann Thomas et al., The Intimate World of Josef Sudek, Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, 2016, pl. 16, p. 115.

Lot Essay

Josef Sudek began working from his Újezd studio in June of 1927. He also lived there until 1959, though he continued to use the darkroom in studio until the end of his life. For Sudek, the studio was not only utilitarian, but also a fundamental source of inspiration. Many of the photographer’s major series of works were shot in and around the building, including the series to which this present lot belongs, The Window of My Studio (1940-1954).

When the window of Sudek’s studio was fully or partially covered in dew, as it is in the present image, the view takes on a mysterious and evocative tone. The concept of ‘mystery’ was dominant for Sudek throughout his photographic career. Towards the end of his life, his close friend and leading Czech historian, Anna Fárová, spoke with Sudek about the recondite and hard to communicate aspects of photography that he was interested in and about how the window of his studio became for him ‘a magical stained-glass window in the humble church of his home, a place to concentrate, meditate and dream’ (Anna Fárová, Josef Sudek: The Window of My Studio, p. 7).

The window-niches of his studio were constant frames through which Sudek would observe and endure several difficult historical periods including the German occupation and the Second World War as well as the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia during the 1950s. Throughout this all, the windows were not at all ordinary for Sudek, but were spiritual symbols of worlds before and behind; external and internal; permeable and impermeable (ibid, pp. 7–8).

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