­Koudelka brings Prague Spring to Russia

Moscow is set to host the first ever-Russian personal display by legendary Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka, the creator of the world famous Prague Spring series.

It was exactly this series shot during the dramatic events of 1968 that made Koudelka a prominent documentary photographer. Over 160 prints from depicting the turning point in the history of Czechoslovakia are on display at Moscow’s Lumiere Brothers Photography Center.

It was the time when reformist Alexander Dubcek, who was elected the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, attempted to liberalize the state, which was still held by the iron hand of the Soviet Russia and its then-leader Leonid Brezhnev. The USSR could not let this happen and together with the members of the Warsaw Pact sent troops to invade Czechoslovakia on August 21. The invasion stopped the liberalization reforms, strengthened the authority of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and left about 500 Czechs and Slovaks wounded and 108 dead.

These events made Josef Koudelka, who was then engaged in photographing day-to-day life of the city and was working for Magnum Photo, reconsider his work. The Agency helped Koudelka’s photographs leave Czechoslovakia. His shots were anonymously published in dozens of printed media sources all over the world, with the name of the photographer was made public only 16 years later.

Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos. Czechoslovakia. Prague. August 1968. Invasion by Warsaw Pact troops

­This iconic series brought Koudelka the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award and became classic in the realm of documentary photography. Koudelka has been numerously awarded for his outstanding work. His personal retrospective shows were held in the most prestigious museums and galleries around the world, including MoMA and International Center of Photography in NY, Hayward Gallery in London, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

For the exhibition in Moscow the photographer has also brought posters, propaganda leaflets and a film to help recreate the events of 1968 even more lively.

The display will be on through to December 4.

Leave a comment