Jan Saudek







Jan Saudek (13 May 1935, in Prague, Czechoslovakia) is a Czech art photographer.






Saudek's father was a Jew and the family was therefore persecuted by Germans. Many of his family members died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. Jan and his brother Karel were held in a children's concentration camp near the Polish border. He survived the war and worked for a printer starting in 1950. After completing his military service, he was inspired in 1963 by Steichen's Family of Man to try to become a serious art photographer. In 1969 he traveled to the United States and was encouraged in his work by curator Hugh Edwards.
Returning to Prague, he was forced to work in a clandestine manner in a cellar, to avoid the attentions of the secret police, as his work turned to themes of personal erotic freedom, and used implicitly political symbols of corruption and innocence. From the late 1970s he gradually became recognised in the West as the leading Czech photographer, and also developed a following among photographers in his own country. In 1983 the first book on his work was published in the English-speaking world. Following this, in 1984 the Communist authorities allowed him to cease working in a factory, and gave him permission to apply for a permit to work as an artist. In 1987 the archives of his negatives were seized by the police, but later returned. 



Saudek currently lives and works in Prague. His brother Karel Saudek is also an artist, and is now the best-known Czech graphic novelist. (read more)