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“Ikonar” (“maker of icons”) is the nickname bestowed on the Czech French photographer Josef Koudelka (born 1938) by a group of Roma he encountered on his travels. The group assigned this name to Koudelka quite aptly; for some time, they had been treating his famous photographs of Roma communities as quasi-religious icons in their places of prayer. Josef Koudelka: Ikonar is the first survey of the photographer to explore in depth his personal archive: 30,000 35mm contact sheets covering the years from 1960 to 2012.
The catalog is structured around key works from his most important series, including Theatre, Gypsies and Invasion 68: Prague and Exiles. It also includes a section entirely devoted to Koudelka’s archive, analyzing its role in his personal and artistic journey, as well as a selection of works from his key books. Altogether, the book addresses some of the central paradoxes of Koudelka’s work, life and career: a nomadic life versus an unrelenting focus on collecting and archiving, and a constant revision and reworking of his iconic works versus a “maximalist” philosophical agenda.