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kottke.org posts about Josef Koudelka

The 100 most influential images of all time

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 22, 2016

Earthrise

Koudelka Invasion Of Prague

Hines Child Labor

Time Magazine has selected the 100 most influential photos of all time, from the first permanent photograph taken (in 1826) to the heartbreaking photo of the body of a 3-year-old refugee washed up on a beach from last year. As you might expect, many of the images are tough to view, but history and our good conscience compels us not to look away.

I was pleased to see Josef Koudelka’s photo Invasion of Prague included (it’s the one above with the wristwatch); it’s one of my favorites.

Josef Koudelka, a young Moravian-born engineer who had been taking wistful and gritty photos of Czech life, was in the capital when the soldiers arrived. He took pictures of the swirling turmoil and created a groundbreaking record of the invasion that would change the course of his nation. The most seminal piece includes a man’s arm in the foreground, showing on his wristwatch a moment of the Soviet invasion with a deserted street in the distance. It beautifully encapsulates time, loss and emptiness — and the strangling of a society.

The photos are also available in book form.

Josef Koudelka, Prague, 1968

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2006

Koudelka Invasion Of Prague

This is one of my favorite photos. It was taken by Josef Koudelka in Prague in 1968, just before the Soviet Union invaded and put a stop to The Prague Spring. To demonstrate the emptiness of the streets at noon, Koudelka stuck his wristwatch into the scene before shooting it. A simple, brilliant gesture that adds not only a temporal dimension to the photo but also a sense of solitary humanity in contrast to the empty streets.