2 Jan 2013

The photography of Frantisek Drtikol


I first became acquainted with the work of the Czechoslovakian photographer Frantisek Drtikol in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, during a visit to that fine city a couple of years ago. It impressed me sufficiently to prompt me to purchase a monography of his photographs. He was born in 1883 and died, in Prague, in 1961. Drtikol's photography was advanced for the time, and often experimental in the techniques used, as well as being clearly linked to contemporary art movements, both in terms of composition and themes: symbolism, cubism and futurism for instance. Strong use of shadows also show links with films of the time, and particularly the work of Fritz Lang. The use of cut-outs towards the end of his photgraphic career marked a transit stage to a period when he abandoned photography for painting. The female body and the portrait were recurrent subjects, as well as mythological compositions during the symbolist period. 

His work, at least his public work, was renowned during his lifetime and earned him commissions for many portraits. He also won awards and publised two books of his work :
  • "Les nus de Drtikol" (1929)
  • Žena ve světle (Woman in the Light)

I think I will be looking out for copies of these books. Here are a few samples of his photographs, which I have deliberately mixed as far as their periods go, but I have placed the portraits first.