New York—Pace and Pace/MacGill Gallery are pleased to present Josef Koudelka, Koudelka: Twelve Panoramas 1987-2012, on view at 508 West 25th Street from January 16 through February 14, 2015. Selected by the artist to represent his best panoramic work from the past three decades, the twelve large-scale, black-and-white photographs depict the vestiges of industrial areas and coastal landscapes in Europe and the Middle East. To accompany the exhibition, Pace/MacGill will publish a catalogue with an essay by Julian Cox, Founding Curator of Photography and Chief Curator of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, January 15 from 6 to 8 PM.
Since 1986, Josef Koudelka has embraced and employed the expansive compositional format of the panorama. From his commissioned investigation of the French-English region impacted by the Channel Tunnel for La Mission Photographique Transmanche project, to his exploration of the political climate in Israel and Palestine, and his most recent documentation of the persistence of classicism along the Mediterranean rim, Koudelka has continuously used panoramic cameras to showcase terrains that have been significantly shaped, altered, and even devastated by the effects of industry, time, and territorial conflict.
Measuring over eight feet in length–a scale which transforms the works into life-size picture windows– Koudelka’s photographs are devoid of human figures but not of human presence. The scars of mining operations, industrial exploitation, and constructed physical barriers are evident in these sites, intensified by the photographer’s vantage point and use of graphic contrast. Koudelka’s panoramas are not conventional, picturesque vistas; rather, these dramatically desolate yet strikingly beautiful images stand as records of the ruins of modern civilization and archeological documents of mankind’s complex and chaotic relationship with nature and power. Julian Cox observes:
There is something somber and disquieting about Koudelka’s panoramas. On the one hand, they are statements of fact and unstintingly particular in what they describe, but, on the other, they also function as a system of ideas as well as a ravishing feast for the eyes. Their beauty captivates, even if they do not provide an entirely hopeful picture for today or tomorrow. . . . They are expansive in form and yet, repeatedly, their bounding frame formulates space by limiting it, simultaneously lavishing the imagination with a sense of vision beyond what is shown.
Josef Koudelka (b. 1938, Moravia, Czech Republic) began his career as an aeronautical engineer in Prague and Bratislava, before committing to photography full-time in 1967. The following year, he photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague, publishing his images under the initials “P. P.” (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal. He was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for this work in 1969. Koudelka’s other accolades include three British Arts Council Grants (1972, 1973, 1976), the Prix Nadar, France (1978), the United States National Endowment for the Arts Photography Grant (1980), the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1992), and the Cornell Capa Infinity Award (2004).
Koudelka’s photographs have been exhibited worldwide at institutions such as the International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum Folkwang, Essen; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among others. Most recently, The Art Institute of Chicago and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, in association with Fundacion MAPFRE, Madrid, co-organized Koudelka’s first retrospective in the United States since 1988, Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful. Debuting at The Art Institute in June 2014, the exhibition is currently on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum and will travel to Fundacion MAPFRE in 2015.
His work has been the subject of numerous monographs, including: Gypsies (1975), Exiles (1988), Prague 1968 (1990), The Black Triangle: The Foothills of the Ore Mountain (1994), Chaos (1999), Koudelka (2006), Invasion 68: Prague (2008), Josef Koudelka: Wall (2013), and Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful (2014).
Koudelka lives and works in Paris and Prague. He is a member of Magnum Photos.
Koudelka is represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery.
KOUDELKA: TWELVE PANORAMAS 1987–2012 508 West 25th Street, New York
Opening reception: Thursday, January 15, 6 – 8 p.m.
January 16 – February 14, 2015