Key works and previously unseen images from the archives of the great humanist photographer
"Ikonar" ("maker of icons") is the nickname bestowed on the Czech French photographer Josef Koudelka (born 1938) by a group of Roma he encountered on his travels. The group assigned this name to Koudelka quite aptly; for some time, they had been treating his famous photographs of Roma communities as quasi-religious icons in their places of prayer. Josef Koudelka: Ikonar is the first survey of the photographer to explore in depth his personal archive: 30,000 35mm contact sheets covering the years from 1960 to 2012. The catalog is structured around key works from his most important series, including Theatre, Gypsies and Invasion 68: Prague and Exiles. It also includes a section entirely devoted to Koudelka's archive, analyzing its role in his personal and artistic journey, as well as a selection of works from his key books. Altogether, the book addresses some of the central paradoxes of Koudelka's work, life and career: a nomadic life versus an unrelenting focus on collecting and archiving, and a constant revision and reworking of his iconic works versus a "maximalist" philosophical agenda.
Josef Koudelka, b. 1938 in Boskovice, Czech Republic, lives in Paris. In 1971 he became a member of the Magnum photo agency. Koudelka has won numerous accolades, including France’s Grand Prix National de la Photographie (1987), the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award (1991), and the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award (2004).
Stuart Alexander is an independent photo historian and is editorial director at Delpire & Co, Paris.
Tatyana Franck was director of Photo Elysée between 2015 and January 2022.
Lars Willumeit works as a curator for Photo Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland.