About the Photographer
Czech, b. 1935
The message I wanted to pass on struck me as fundamental, namely that people are beautiful. A lot of years have passed since then and I still feel the same way. – Jan Saudek
Image #134 (Hey Joe!) is one of Jan Saudek's early works and one of relatively few photographs Saudek ever shot outdoors. Indeed, since 1960, the mottled wall of his cellar studio has been a signature element of Saudek's pictures. His early work has a tendency to examine extremes, contrasting big and small, strong and weak, even generation gaps. Here that tension is played out in the difference between the figure solidly straddling a motor-scooter and smaller, less confidant figure in the distance. The banks of the Vltava are visited again in one of Saudek's most famous images, Hey Joe Place, 30 Years Later, a hand-colored picture in which a blonde woman trailing a length of fabric steps towards a flock of swans.
Jan Saudek was born in Prague on May 13, 1935. He worked in various departments of the State Printing Works from 1950 through 1970, and started making his own photographs in 1951. He began to hand paint his images in 1977. Saudek's pictures display a fondness for sequences that can be traced back to his childhood appreciation of comic books. More obviously, his work is often inspired by the nineteenth century tradition of photographs of large women posed in lingerie reproduced as postcards (quite possibly also the source of inspiration for Saudek's collection 30 Postcards). His formal training occurred from 1950 to 1952, when Saudek attended Graphic Arts school and took a photography class. Saudek first exhibited in Prague in 1963 at the Hall of the Theatre on the Balustrade; though he continues to show work in his home country occasionally, Saudek's pictures are most widely exhibited in the United States. His work is held by such institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Musée Nicephore Nièpce, Chalon-sur-Saone, France; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; and Photo Art, Basel, Switzerland. Saudek continues to live and work in the Czech Republic.