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Hana Buddeus

Storing and/or Sharing: the Negative in the Commercial Work of Josef Sudek

The article explores the possible uses of photographic negatives in art historical research, based on the research undertaken in an existing archive of photographs of works of art by Josef Sudek, comprising approximately twenty thousand items and housed at the Photo Archive of the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The focus of the present article reflects the current interest in photographic collections outside of art museums, while also looking at the issue of how new findings can be applied in the reassessment of research into Sudek’s photography in general. The analysis of the photographs themselves (surviving mainly in the form of negatives) refers to George Baker, who defined the negative as the true medium of photography. Given the nature of the material under examination, apart from the original “vintage prints”, the objective was to analyze above all the context of how these photographs were created and distributed. Because the negatives were not approached only from the point of view of technology or aesthetics but from the perspective of their utility, the criteria for selecting specific images was their existing reproduction in period publications, such as the magazines Pestrý týden, Magazin DP, or Fotografický obzor.

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