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Jan Saudek

1935 Prag

Jan Saudek, born in Prague on May 13, 1935, is a representative of staged photography and is especially known for his nude photographs. After studies at a school for industrial photography in Prague in 1950-53, Jan Saudek came across the catalog of the photographic exhibit "Family of Man". Impressed by the pictures, he made a decision in 1963 to create his own artistic photographs. Already in the same year, Saudek’s first solo exhibit took place in Prague; further exhibits followed, for example in the USA, Australia, France and Germany.
A central theme in Saudek’s work is relationships – between man and woman, parent and child, particularly also sexual relationships. Some of his nude photos, because of their permissive poses, border on pornography.
In addition, the changes of human beings during all the phases of their lives fascinated him: Saudek often juxtaposes the ideal and flawless mercilessly with the decayed and aged. Thus in his pictures there are often older, plump nudes that do not correspond to conventional ideas of beauty. Jan Saudek sometimes accompanied his models for years – untreated nude series are produced that document the changes of a human being from youth into old age. In the 1970’s he began to pose his models with props and costumes.
A recurring theme in Saudek’s photographs is an old crumbly wall with flaking plaster that often serves as a background and which has turned up in his pictures time and again over the decades. Jan Saudek’s pictures were at first black-and-white; later he also began to color them in pastel colors. In this way, each photograph became an irreplaceable unique specimen. With their colored treatment, the photos are reminiscent of early color photography.
Saudek’s photographs are provocative – the extremely revealing, erotic poses in combination with the subsequent coloration shock many observers, but they can also have a comic and absurd or ironic-kitschy effect. Jan Saudek lives in Prague and also works as a painter. His paintings were exhibited in the Czech Parliament in Prague in 2008.

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