Before he ever picked up a camera, the internationally renowned Czech photographer Antonín Kratochvíl led a colourful life to say the least. After escaping from Czechoslovakia in 1967, he spent time in an Austrian refugee camp, was imprisoned in Sweden and joined the French Foreign Legion, with whom he fought in a war before later deserting. In the second part of an interview conducted at his long-term home in New York, Antonín Kratochvíl discusses, among other things, how his own experiences have shaped his approach to photography.
Antonín Kratochvíl is one of the greatest contemporary Czech photographers. Known for both his celebrity portraits and photojournalism, he is said to have won World Press Photo awards in more categories than anybody else. Much of his work is informed by his own tough experiences, starting with the Communists’ persecution of his family, who owned a photography studio. At his apartment in New York, where he has been living for three decades, I asked Antonín Kratochvíl when he had first begun to feel his family was being treated harshly.
In this week’s Magazine find out how a modern art exhibit shocked newly-weds in Pardubice; a growing number of Czechs are lining up for cosmetic surgery; Czech gym teachers decry the poor level of physical fitness among kids at the start of the new year. And, why couldn’t he just collect stamps? A Czech collector boasts a grand collection of historic enema kits.
My guest today on One on One is Vit Havránek, head of the Tranzit Display gallery in Prague. Vit opened up this space for contemporary art last November, after working for many years at the National Gallery in Prague. He publishes and edits books of young Czech artists’ work, and has been charged with amassing one of the biggest collections of Central European art today by the Austrian bank Erste. I met him in the café of his new gallery to ask him a bit about the way he used the space:
This week in Mailbox: The 40th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, Joe Hewer’s memories of a 1956 trip to Czechoslovakia, a 1970 Radio Prague print to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of Czechoslovakia, weapons used by two Czech Olympic medallists, Kateřina Emmons and David Kostelecký. Listeners quoted: Jayanta Chakrabarty, Joe Hewer, Bill Smith, Steve Price.
Exhibitions have been taking place all over Prague recently to commemorate the Warsaw-Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. But perhaps the biggest of all the displays was unveiled on Thursday, exactly 40 years after the Soviet tanks rolled in. ‘… And the tanks arrived’ sees Prague’s National Museum – to this day a symbol of the occupation – returned to the way it looked in 1968. For one month only, a 1960’s-style kiosk, vintage cars, and of course, a Soviet tank stand outside the museum.
Several of Josef Koudelka’s 1968 photos are being shown at the Mánes gallery, by the River Vltava, in a new exhibition entitled 1945 – Liberation, 1968 – Occupation. Two rooms of iconic black and white photographs show two very different sets of images: the Red Army greeted with smiles and flowers in May 1945, and Russian soldiers berated by angry crowds in August 1968. So how do the people looking at these images feel about today's Russia, especially in the light of the current situation in Georgia?
It was 40 years ago this Thursday that Warsaw-Pact troops invaded the former Czechoslovakia, putting an end to the hope and reform of the so-called ‘Prague Spring’. All this week, Radio Prague will be commemorating the invasion by broadcasting the testimonies of those who were there. For today’s programme, Rosie Johnston spoke to Libor Hajský, a junior photographer at the Czech Press Agency on August 21, 1968 – the day that Soviet tanks rolled into Prague.
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