1963, printed 1968–69
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Joan Liftin 2022.311
Josef Koudelka’s photos of the Roma were initially signed P.P. or Prague Photographer, for fear of governmental reprisals against the artist and his family.
Koudelka began photographing the Roma of his native Czechoslovakia, or Gypsies as they were known at the time, in 1961 and continued for a decade. This was a personal undertaking, intended to preserve the vanishing culture of a group targeted for assimilation. This image, taken in Bohemia in western Czechoslovakia, suggests both assimilation—in the form of a settled residence instead of nomadic life, a rather elegant couch, and a besuited young man—and, in his wild grin as he smokes a cigar, the independence of the Roma spirit.
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