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Pace Gallery : Josef Koudelka : Industry


Pace presents an exhibition of work by Josef Koudelka at its 540 West 25th Street gallery in New York. This will be the artist’s first solo show in New York in nearly a decade, bringing together six large-scale panoramas he created between 1987 and 2010 as part of a project titled Industries. The exhibition will also include a display of small-scale, accordion-style maquettes of Mission Photographique Transmanche, Beyrouth Centre Ville, The Black Triangle, Reconnaissance-Wales, Lime Stone, Teatro del Tempo, Camargue, Piemonte, WALL, Ruins, and Solac. This presentation at Pace coincides with the release of Josef Koudelka: Next, the definitive and only authorized biography of the artist, published by Aperture. The book will be available for purchase on-site at the gallery during the run of the exhibition.

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1938, Koudelka trained as an aeronautical engineer but began photographing Romani people—their everyday lives, their struggles, and their traditions—mainly in central European countries in the early 1960s, making a full-time commitment to photography later that decade. In 1968, he photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague, publishing his works under the initials P.P. (Prague photographer). Koudelka, who was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for those photographs, left Czechoslovakia seeking political asylum in England, with assistance from the Magnum Photos cooperative, in 1970. His first book, Gypsies, was released by Aperture in 1975, and he has since produced more than a dozen publications of his work.

Koudelka’s interest in the social and political dimensions of photography, evident in his earliest bodies of work, would endure through the following decades. He has been working in large-format, panoramic photography since 1986, capturing images of changing landscapes around the world—places that have been reshaped, altered, and in some cases devastated by the effects of industry, time, and war.

Adopting a semi-nomadic lifestyle in pursuit of documenting these haunting, elegiac scenes, Koudelka produced deeply interconnected bodies of work that speak to the ways that the weight of history lingers within the natural world. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the artist photographed the Berlin Wall; the streets of Beirut immediately following the Lebanese Civil War; outsized industrialization and pollution in the Black Triangle, a border region between Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic; the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland; and other places forever transformed by sociopolitical turmoil, violence, and environmental destruction.

Also among Koudelka’s famous panoramic projects are his Ruins series, for which he photographed more than 200 archeological sites across Greece, Italy, Libya, Syria, and other countries between 1991 and 2015, and his body of work on Israel’s West Bank Wall, which he created over the course of seven trips to Israel and Palestine between 2008 and 2012.

“The face of the wounded landscape—it is marked by trouble, by suffering,” Koudelka tells his biographer, Melissa Harris. “It is the same as the face of people who have a difficult life. I am interested in real people, real faces … In this wounded landscape, I admire the fight for survival … Nature is stronger than man.”

The artist’s upcoming exhibition with Pace in New York, his first solo show in the city since 2015, will be presented on the gallery’s seventh floor against sweeping views of the Chelsea skyline. Measuring some nine feet in width, each of the six monumental panoramas that Koudelka has selected for the exhibition—captured across the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Azerbaijan, and Israel between 1987 and 2010—tells a different story.


Josef Koudelka (b. 1938) began his career as an aeronautical engineer in Prague and Bratislava, and began photographing stage productions for theater magazines. After documenting gypsy culture in Romania, Slovakia, and Western Europe, he committed to photography full-time in 1967. The following year, Koudelka photographed the Soviet invasion of Prague, publishing his images under the initials “P. P.” (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal. He was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for this work in 1969.

Since 1986, Koudelka has embraced and employed the expansive compositional format of the panorama. From his commissioned investigation of the French-English region impacted by the Channel Tunnel for La Mission Photographique Transmanche project, to his exploration of the political climate in Israel and Palestine, and his recent documentation of the persistence of classicism along the Mediterranean rim, Koudelka has continuously used panoramic cameras to showcase terrains that have been significantly shaped, altered, and even devastated by the effects of industry, time, and territorial conflict.


Josef Koudelka : Industry
March 29 – April 27, 2024
Pace Gallery
540 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001

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