Josef Koudelka: Invasion Prague 1968

  June –
August 2009

CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Prague. August 1968. Invasion by Warsaw Pact troops in front of the Radio headquarters. © JOSEF KOUDELKA / MAGNUM PHOTOS

Venues: the Gallery of Photography and in free public screenings on Meeting House Square after dark.

The Gallery of Photography is proud to present the Irish premiere of one of the most important works of photo-journalism of the last century. Josef Koudelka’s ‘Invasion Prague 1968’ documents the momentous events of 21 August 1968, when over 5000 Warsaw Pact tanks rolled into Prague, ending the Dubcek era of liberalisation known as the ‘Prague Spring’.

This inspiring projection exhibition features images selected by the photographer from his extensive archive, with his own commentary, in French [translation available here].

Koudelka’s photographs of the invasion were smuggled out of the country and were credited only to ‘Prague photographer’ to avoid reprisals to Koudelka and his family. The intensity and significance of the images earned the still-anonymous photographer the Robert Capa Award. Sixteen years passed before Koudelka could safely acknowledge authorship.

Koudelka left Czechoslovakia for political asylum in England in 1970 and shortly thereafter joined Magnum Photos. Throughout the 70s and 80s, he continued to wander around Europe, including Ireland in 1977, hoping to capture something of the world that seemed to be vanishing before his eyes.

Koudelka has had more than a dozen books of his work published. Among other titles, a limited number of copies of Invasion Prague 1968 (pb 296pp) is available in the Gallery Bookshop at €60.

About the artist: Josef Koudelka (born in Moravia, Czech Republic, 1938) is the recipient of the Prix Nadar, Grand Prix National de la Photographie, Grand Prix Cartier-Bresson, and Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. Major exhibitions of his work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography, New York; Hayward Gallery, London; Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. He is a member of Magnum Photos and is currently based in Paris.