Prague, Czech Republic – The world-famous Czech-born photographer Josef Koudelka said he was donating almost 2,000 of his photographs to the Czech Republic.
The vast majority of them, some 1,800 photographs including among his most famous series that captured the dramatic events surrounding the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led troops – will go to the Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM) in Prague.
The rest will be donated to various other Czech cultural institutions, including the National Museum and the Brno Moravian Gallery.
“I have no doubt that the donation was placed into the right hands and it will be treated correctly in the future”, Koudelka, 83, said, adding that more similar donations could be made later on.
Speaking from the Czech Ministry of Culture earlier this week, the renowned photographer said he was trying to get his work and archives in order as he was getting old and was now unable to travel as much as he used to.
He also put his trust in his foundation – composed of long-time collaborators Irena Sorfova, Jonathan Roquemore and Stuart Alexander – to continue his goals and take care of his legacy.
Born in a small Moravian town in 1938, Josef Koudelka studied at the Czech Technical University in Prague (CVUT) and started his career as an aeronautical engineer. He dedicated himself full-time to photography from the mid-1960s, with extensive work capturing the life in Roma communities in Czechoslovakia and other Central and Eastern European countries.
He reached world-wide fame with his coverage of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968, the so-called Invasion 68 cycle published under the anonymous initials P.P (Prague Photographer) in The Sunday Times magazine.
He left Czechoslovakia in 1970 and received political asylum in England, where he stayed for more than a decade. He later moved to France and received French citizenship in 1987, a few years before the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. He was able to return to his home country only in 1990 and has since divided his time between France and the Czech Republic.