Off the Shelf – The Window of my Studio, Josef Sudek


The Window of my Studio, Josef Sudek, published by Torst 2007

This book I picked up at Sims Reed booksellers in London on a flyer. I knew some of the work of Czech photographer Josef Sudek (1896 – 1976) but perhaps not as much as I should.

The whole is one of Sudek’s most important collection of photographs; the ones he made looking through the window of his studio. According to the preface by Anna Fárová the images represent a sort of metaphorical autobiography of Sudek in particular the views of a particular, deformed tree which reflected both Sudek’s spirit as he lived through the many phases of tyranny and war. The tree also also reflects his self image as a man who lost his right arm in World War 1 (from the ‘friendly fire’ of Austrian shrapnel).

The window pane and the texture of the window are equally important and constant motifs through the book. The textures of condensation, dirt and ice on the glass lending an important dimension to the images. Sudek spoke of a ‘mystery’ in the images, of a sense of ‘something around the corner’.

These are the notes I made as I went through the book for this post:

  • Prints are heavy and dense on the whole. To my mind this give an increased sense of claustrophobia, of being trapped.
  • Through the window we see monstrous forms which reminded me of Paul Nash’s ‘Monster Field