woensdag 13 april 2011

Miroslav Tichy (1926-2011) ...

Czech photographer Miroslav Tichy, subject of an ICP exhibition and book last year, died April 12, at age 85.

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 Tichý performed his photographic work just for himself without any ambitions to exhibit or to sell. Most of the works he passively destroyed by letting them fall apart or even using them for heating.

Since 1981 his former neighbour and friend Roman Buxbaum discovered his hidden work, saved large parts of it and documented the artist and his life. Since 1989 Buxbaum presented Tichý’s photographs in exhibitions and texts. After 2004 Harald Szeemann included Tichy’s work in the Bienal in Seville. Tichý’s late carrier exploded. The first solo retrospective of the 80 years old artist took place in the Kunsthaus Zurich (2005), followed by single shows in the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt (both 2007), The Sidney Bienal (2008), The International Centre of Photography ICP in New York (2010), the Hague Museum of Photography (2010-11) and many other exhibitions in the whole world.
Tichý is maybe the last great discovery of the photography of 20th century. Through his deliberate and selfinventive use of the old photographic materials Miroslav Tichý inspired an important new reflection on photography on the wake of the digital revolution of the medium. Many artists reacted to Tichý’s photographs and make him an „artist’s artist“. Arnulf Rainer, Richard Prince, Jonathan Meese, Erik van Lieshout, Lawrence Weiner and many others have honored Tichý by creating works in reference to him. There is even an application for the Iphone („Bad Camera“) in honor of Miroslav Tichý imitating his style of photography. Tichý’s way to see the world (especially the female part of it) seems to become an archetype of general perception.
The Foundation Tichy Ocean will organise in May an event to say goodbye to Miroslav Tichý. The Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto will create the installation Tichý Temple to honor Miroslav Tichý in the refectorium of the former monastery (now Bohemian Museum of Art GASK, Kutna Hora) opening May 20th. On the opening event Nick Cave’s ballad „The Collector – For Miroslav Tichý“ and Michal Nyman’s Memorial (dedicated to Miroslav Tichý) will honor the artist.
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