Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miroslav Tichý (1926-2011) : photographer

Miroslav Tichý (1926-2011) was known as the crazy old man harmlessly toting his homemade cameras around town. Women didn’t mind his constant gaze since they thought his wire and cardboard cameras didn’t work. Few people in the Czech town of Kyjov knew Tichý developed their photographs in his outdoor tub and later discarded them on his floor.
This last master of the 20th century photography was only discovered some 6 years ago and left a radical and unorthodox body of photography focussed on the female figure. After studying at the Academy of Arts in Prague, Miroslav Tichý withdrew to a life in isolation in his hometown of Kyjov, Moravia, Czech Republic. In the late 1950s he quitted painting and became a distinctive Diogenes-like figure. From the end of the 1960s he began to take photographs mainly of local women, in part with cameras he made by hand. He later mounted them on hand-made frames, added finishing touches with pencil, and thus moved them from photography in the direction of drawing. The result are works of strikingly unusual formal qualities, which disregard the rules of conventional photography. They constitute a large oeuvre of poetic, dreamlike views of feminine beauty in a small town under the Czechoslovak Communist régime.
Miroslav Tichy said that to be famous today, you have to be the worst at something. His underexposed blurry voyeuristic images of women in his small hometown are the antithesis of today’s overindulgent snapshot culture. Here is a throwback to a time when a camera was a magical instrument, one capable of inciting wonder and rarity. Tichy’s photographs from the sixties and seventies have retained the mystical quality that photography innately possesses. Women seen through his home made mouse nibbled lenses and self constructed scrapyard cameras are honest and poignant and most importantly, and herein lies his credit- fresh and new.Women as though glimpsed for the first time.


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