In 1959, at just 20 years of age, Antanas Sutkus began photographing on the streets of Vilnius, then the capital of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania. Strolling through the town, his attitude was more that of a flaneur than of a photographer, observing and absorbing the essence of daily life as it was offered to him by his fellow citizens. At the time it was difficult to find safe surroundings in such a highly controlling and controlled society as Soviet-occupied Lithuania. But the streets offered open spaces, diverse passersby, bustling traffic and multiple layers of events. It was here that people tried to carve out and preserve niches for their little moments of joy. Establishing these tiny islands of individuality within such a strict and brutal system sets the frame for Sutkus’ street photography and the contrasting realities of his loving observations of everyday life.

 

Born in Kluoniškiai, Lithuania, in 1939, Antanas Sutkus earned a degree in journalism in Vilnius and worked for daily newspapers before co-founding the Lithuanian Photographers’ Association in 1969, which he headed for many years. Sutkus was president of the Union of Lithuanian Art Photographers upon its estab- lishment in 1996 and has been its honorary president since 2009. He is the recipient of the Lithuanian National Culture and Arts Award and the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gedimas, an Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation Grant and the 2017 Erich Salomon Award of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie. Sutkus has exhibited extensively, including his 2018 retrospective at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius held on the hundredth anniversary of the Republic of Lithuania. Sutkus’ books with Steidl are Planet Lithuania (2018), Pro Memoria (2020), Children (2021) and Street Life (2022).

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