published: 19.08.2013, 17:31 | updated: 19.08.2013 18:21:17
Prague - Czech-born photographer Josef Koudelka, 75, today signed a document confirming his intention to donate 537 photos, a collection representing his life work, to the Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM) in Prague, UPM spokeswoman Jana Ulipova told CTK.
The first part of the collection is to be imported to Prague in six months. The other part is currently on display at various exhibitions and it will be brought to Prague after the exhibitions end.
Experts estimate the collection´s value at tens of millions of crowns.
The UPM plans to open a retrospective exhibition of Koudelka´s work in 2018 after the UPM building is reconstructed.
At present, the Koudelka´s gift has the status of a long-term loan.
"It can be changed into a gift contract after the danger of seizures of state-owned artifacts abroad as a result of ongoing international arbitrations subsides," Ulipova said.
A couple of years ago, several artifacts owned by the Czech state and displayed abroad were temporarily seized by foreign courts at the initiative of Diag Human, a company that seeks compensation worth billions of crowns from the Czech Republic as a result of what it calls an arbitration verdict. Prague, on its part, says the arbitration proceedings still continue.
Koudelka offered the gift to the museum at the end of 2006, but the form of the donation contract was allegedly a problem as it contained some conditions unacceptable for the museum.
Since further negotiations, also involving the Czech Culture Ministry, had no clear outcome, Koudelka told the press last year that he had given up his intention to donate his works to the UPM due to administrative protractions.
The UPM and the ministry then showed willingness to reopen the negotiations, which were successfully brought to an end only now.
"The retrospective exhibition named Josef Koudelka - Photographs, which took place in Prague´s National Gallery in 2002, contains all the best I did in the preceding 50 years," Koudelka said.
The exhibition was afterwards held in many world museums, with several institutions showing interest in acquiring the collection of photos.
"However, I drew the conclusion that the collection should remain in my native country, which is Bohemia. That is why I offered it as a gift to the UPM in 2002, and I gradually extended it to include other sets of photographs. I´m glad that the deal has finally been struck now, after many years," Koudelka said.
Koudelka, who has both Czech and French citizenships, ranks among the most significant photographers in the world.
He has been a member of the prestigious Magnum Photos agency since 1974.
He has received a number of awards in the Czech Republic and abroad. In the past 20 years he has mainly focused on photographing sceneries in a panoramic format.
He is mainly known for his photos from August 1968 showing the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact Troops. At the time, Koudelka secretly exported the photos from Czechoslovakia to acquaint the world with the developments in his homeland.
The UPM says the collection Kouelka gave to it is a very significant set of photographs. Many of them are unique vintage prints, i.e. the original historical photos made by Koudelka. In the case of others, only a single copy exists and the photos cannot be remade any more.
The collection includes several photo sets Koudelka made from 1964 to 2006, such as Theatre (1964-1970), Black Triangle (1994). Invasion 1968, Camarque (2004-2005), Exiles (1968-1984) and others.
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