The Enigmatic Art of Josef Koudelka

January 2, 2015 11:50 PM

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Josef Koudelka's striking photographs in the exhibition "Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful" at the Getty Museum include images of the Roma (Gypsy) communities, the 1968 Russian invasion of Prague, panoramic views of devastated environments and ravaged landscapes, and Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank. The photos are haunting and enigmatic, as emotionally impactful as their meaning is uncertain.

Not many details of Koudelka's life are known beyond the broad outlines. He was born in Moravia, Czechoslovakia, in 1938 and originally trained as an aeronautical engineer. In the late 1950s, he began to take photographs, experimenting as much with exposures as with developing the film. His earliest...

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