Past Exhibition Special Exhibition

Josef Koudelka Retrospective



Art Museum Special Exhibition Gallery

About the Exhibition

Josef Koudelka (born in Czechoslovakia in 1938) is one of the most important photographers in the world today. This exhibition traces his career from his earliest to his most recent works.

While working as a flight engineer, Koudelka became involved in photography in the early 1960s. He became a well-known figure in the Czechoslovakian photography world through his pictures of a Prague theater, which he came to shoot on the introduction of an acquaintance. In 1967, Koudelka quit his job and began working as a freelance photographer. The following year he shot Warsaw Pact troops as they invaded Prague. These photographs were anonymously distributed in the West, and as a result, Koudelka decided to leave the country in 1970.

After living first in England and then France, Koudelka showed series such as Gypsies (1962-1970), which he had taken while still in Czechoslovakia, and Exiles (1970-1994), which he shot throughout Europe after his defection. In these poetic and uniquely powerful images, Koudelka captured the shadows of people’s modest lives in various towns. The photographs were highly esteemed as works that were imbued with profound insights into civilization during the 20th century, and Koudelka immediately rose to fame as a photographer in the West.

The first retrospective of the artist’s work was held in Koudelka’s former homeland of Czech Republic at the National Gallery in Prague in 2002 before traveling to Turkey and Mexico. In addition to vintage prints that have rarely been shown in the past, and a series of panorama photographs called the Chaos series (1986-2012), which he has continued since the late ’80s (shown here in a new structure that includes his most recent efforts), this exhibition, the artist’s first in Asia, introduces Josef Koudelka’s entire body of work.

About the Sections

  • Beginnings 1958-1961
  • Experiments 1962-1964
  • Theater 1962-1970
  • Gypsies 1962-1970
  • Invasion 1968
  • Exiles 1970-1994
  • Chaos 1986-2012

All images: © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

About Artists

Josef Koudelka

Czech/French, b. Czechoslovakia 1938

Josef Koudelka, born in Moravia, made his first photographs while a student in the 1950s. About the same time that he started his career as a flight engineer in 1961 he also began photographing Gypsies in Czechoslovakia and theater in Prague. He turned full-time to photography in 1967. The following year, Koudelka photographed the invasion of Prague by the Warsaw Pact armies, publishing his photographs under the initials P. P. (Prague Photographer) for fear of reprisal to him and his family. In 1969, he was anonymously awarded the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for those photographs.

Koudelka left Czechoslovakia for political asylum in 1970 and shortly thereafter joined Magnum Photos. In 1975, he brought out his first book Gypsies, and in 1988, Exiles. Since 1986, he has worked with a panoramic camera and issued a compilation of these photographs in his book Chaos in 1999. Koudelka has had more than a dozen books of his work published, including most recently in 2008 Invasion Prague 68.

He has won significant awards such as the Prix Nadar (1978), a Grand Prix National de la Photographie (1989), a Grand Prix Cartier-Bresson (1991), and the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (1992). Significant exhibitions of his work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography, New York; the Hayward Gallery, London; the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam; and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris.

Hours & Admissions


Art Museum Special Exhibition Gallery




10:00-17:00 (Friday is 10:00-20:00)
*Last admission : 30 minutes before closing


Closed on Mondays (except December 23 and January 13), December 24, 2013 and December 28, 2013 – January 1, 2014


Adults: ¥850 (600)
College and university students: ¥450 (250)

*All prices include tax.
*Including the admission fee for PRODUCT DESIGN TODAY: Creating “Made in Japan”, MOMAT Collection, Close Up Crafts and From Crafts to Kogei In Commemoration of the 60th Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition.
*Prices in parentheses are for groups of more than 20 persons.
*Free for high school students and under 18.
*Persons with disability and one person accompanying them are admitted free of charge.


The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Magnum Photos Tokyo


Embassy of the Czech Republic, Czech Centre Tokyo


Leica Camera Japan Co., Ltd.



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