Invasion 68: Prague

ISBN 13: 9781597110686

Invasion 68: Prague

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In 1968, Josef Koudelka was a 30-year-old acclaimed theater photographer who had never made pictures of a news event. That all changed on the night of August 21, when Warsaw Pact tanks invaded the city of Prague, ending the short-lived political liberalization in Czechoslovakia that came to be known as the Prague Spring. Koudelka had returned home the day before from photographing gypsies in Romania. In the midst of the turmoil of the Soviet-led invasion, he took a series of photographs which were miraculously smuggled out of the country. A year after they reached New York, Magnum Photos distributed the images credited to "an unknown Czech photographer" to avoid reprisals. The intensity and significance of the images earned the still-anonymous photographer the Robert Capa Award. Sixteen years would pass before Koudelka could safely acknowledge authorship. Forty years after the invasion, this impressive monograph features nearly 250 of these searing images—most of them published here for the first time—personally selected by Koudelka from his extensive archive. Interspersed with the images are press and propaganda quotations from the time, also selected by Koudelka, alongside a text by three Czech historians. Though the images gathered in this remarkable publication document a specific historical event, their transformative quality still resonates.

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About the Author:

In 1968, Josef Koudelka photographed the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, publishing these images under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer). Koudelka left Czechoslovakia in 1970, became stateless, was then granted political asylum in England, and shortly thereafter joined Magnum Photos. Koudelka has published eleven books of photographs focusing on the relationship between contemporary man and the landscape, including Gypsies (1975), Exiles (1988), Black Triangle (1994), Invasion 68: Prague (2008), and Wall (2013). Significant exhibitions of his work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography, New York; Hayward Gallery, London; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Koudelka is the recipient of the Medal of Merit awarded by the Czech Republic (2002) and numerous other awards. In 2012, he was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. He is based in Paris and Prague.

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Those vivid black-and-white pictures are now considered classic examples of photojournalism, not only as documentation of an important event but because of his proximity to his subjects, which brings the viewer smack into the middle of the action. – The New York Times

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