RecommendedOut of Print

Koudelka Gypsies

Josef Koudelka

Thames & Hudson

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32 x 24 cm
192 pages
109 illustrations in quadritone
ISBN 9780500544020

A revised and enlarged version of Koudelka’s classic book Cikáni, prepared by Koudelka and graphic designer Milan Kopřiva in 1968, and intended for publication in Prague in 1970.

Josef Koudelka left Czechoslovakia in 1970 after extensively documenting the Russian invasion of Prague in August 1968, and the book was eventually published in 1975. This extended version consists of 109 photographs taken between 1962 and 1971 in the former Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, France and Spain.

Koudelka’s stark images depict the simplicity of Gypsy life, but he does not present their situation as a social problem that should somehow be fixed. Instead, he shows the Gypsies as perpetual outsiders, and their lives as a primal mix of glee and wonder, sorrow and mystery.

Will Guy, author of the text that accompanied the first publication of Gypsies, has contributed an updated essay, tracing the migration of the Roma from their original homeland in northern India, to their current status – one that continues to be contested internationally.

Josef Koudelka began his career as an aeronautical engineer, turning full-time to photography in the late 1960s. In 1968, Koudelka photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague, publishing his photographs under the initials P. P. (Prague photographer). In 1969, he was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for the photographs. Koudelka left Czechoslovakia for political asylum in 1970 and shortly thereafter joined Magnum Photos. In 1975, the first edition of Gypsies was published, the first of more than a dozen books by the photographer, including Exiles, Chaos, and Invasion 68: Prague.

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