With crude homemade cameras fashioned out of cardboard and duct tape, Tichý took several thousand pictures of the women of his Moravian hometown of Kyjov throughout the 1960s and ’70s. These pictures of women going about their daily business are at once banal and extraordinary, transforming the ordinary moments of work and leisure into small epiphanies. Blurred and off-kilter, his photographs have a striking contemporaneity, resembling the early paintings of Gerhard Richter or the photographs of Sigmar Polke. Printed imperfectly and deliberately battered, they evince a surprising retrograde or even antimodernist feeling, which, in the context of the Cold War atmosphere of provincial Czechoslovakia, just before and after the liberalizing moment of the Prague Spring (1968), undoubtedly constituted a kind of oblique political provocation, a nose-thumbing response to the progressive realist perfectionism of official Soviet culture.
Brian Wallis, Roman Buxbaum, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, and Richard Prince
328 pages, 364 colour plates
21.6 cm x 32.4 cm
Photography is something concrete, a perception, what you see with your eyes. And it happens so fast that you may not see anything at all! To photograph is to paint with light! The flaws are part of it. That's what makes the poetry. And for that you need a bad camera. If you want to be famous, you have to be worse at something than everyone else in the world! Miroslav Tichy
After studying at the Academy of Arts in Prague, Miroslav Tichy, born in 1926 in the former Czechoslovakia, withdrew to a life of isolation in his hometown of Kyjov. In the late 1950s, he stopped painting and, during his daily walks, began to take photographs of women with cameras he made by hand. He mounted his prints on handmade frames and added finishing touches in pencil, shifting from photography to drawing. Disregarding the rules of photography, for four decades Tichy created a large oeuvre of poetic, dreamlike views of female beauty.
A former neighbor, Roman Buxbaum, discovered Tichy's hidden work in the 1980s and has been documenting and collecting it ever since. In 2004, the esteemed international curator Harald Szeemann mounted the first solo exhibition of the nearly 80-year-old artist. That same year, Tichy was given the Rencontres d'Arles Photographie Discovery Award and the Kunsthaus Zurich organized a large retrospective. Solo exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art (MMK) Frankfurt followed in 2008.
Torst Publishing House
Texts by Harals Szeemann, Roman Buxbaum and Igor Bauersima
Miroslav Tichý: Tarzan Retired (2004)
Miroslav Tichy took thousands of photographs with home-made cameras between 1960 and 1990.
"Photography is what you see with your eye and it goes so quick, that you don't even have to see it. To photograph means to paint with light. Mistakes are part of it. They are the poetry, the painterly quality. And for that you need a bad camera. If you want to be famous, you have to be worst in something, than anybody else in the world!" (Miroslav Tichý)
Miroslav Tichý: Tarzan Retired, a DVD by Roman Buxbaum, is a 32 minute documentary on Miroslav Tichy's work and life. Filmed in the 80s and 90s, at the height of Tichy's career, this documentary features an intimate and unique view on the Czech photographer's life. Subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish, and Dutch.