Monday, December 12, 2011

In Full Spectrum. Photography 1900-1950 from the Collection of the Moravian Gallery in Brno. 4th part: Social Photography and Reportage

Social Photography
Social photography also expanded the social impact of photography. Under the auspices of the Left Front (an anti-Nazi organization, 1929-1933), it evolved out of compassionate representations of poverty into a movement promoting change in the social order. It was intended, first and foremost, for the press and, paired with written text, it required legibility in the sense of clarity and rationality. It employed the whole repertoire of new photography, especially in approach to detail and in diagonal compositions.
Social photography was a natural  response to the Great Depression (1929-1933), and thus an international phenomenon. While in countries like Germany it was largely produced by the working class, social photography in Czechoslovakia involved a large number of intellectuals: writers, architects, politicians and artists. Prime movers and interpreters of social photography included Lubomir Linhart in Prague and František Kalivoda in Brno. Characteristically, the work of famous photographers, although not socially engaged, often features small series devoted to social matters.

Grete Popper 1934

Josef Bartuška 1939

Karel Ludwing 1948
Oldřich Straka

Otmar Schick

Documentary Photography and Reportage
The relationship between art and documentary photography is frequently discussed.
Acknowledgement of documentary and reportage photography was slow to come, and is beyond the chronological scope of this exhibition. The two modes are presented here as a single whole, since both parts are defined by faithful “reproduction” of visual reality and do not change over time as much as those photographic disciplines with a wide potential for stylization.
However, they may differ in terms of subject, purpose and function. The division of documentary and reportage photography is rooted in function, or the “strategies” associated with it. The importance of family records is illustrated by a specimen of the Josef Kluge family album. Reportage is represented only lightly (Karel Hajek, Tibor Honty, Jan Lukas, Josef Vořišek, with documentary photography by leading protagonists of the genre prevailing.
After social photography, another trend shaped by the times was national-history photography, photography of the homeland (Karel Plicka, Josef Sudek, Jaromir Funke, Jan Lukas, Jaroslav Krupka, Alois Zych). lt was motivated by the impending war, by threats to national life, and continued after the war. It resumed traditional values seen as a shared historical base and a means for the post-war restoration of Czech national consciousness. War as a propaganda issue and a field open to intelligence games with information and disinformation proved an  impetus for the reconsideration of documentary photography, not only in essence but also  in social importance.

František Illek c. 1950

Karl Katholicky
Tibor Hont 1945

Tibor Honty - 1945
*text and images from the exhibition*