Anna Fárová and photography
8.11. 2006 - 1.1. 2007
An exhibition in honour of the Czech art historian Anna Fárová.
Among Anna Fárová’s many contributions to the field of photography is the first monograph in the world about Henri Cartier-Bresson, the cataloguing of the works of Josef Sudek and František Drtikol, the establishment and building up of the photography collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, her years of work with Josef Koudelka, and organizing “9&9” in Plasy as well as other legendary photography exhibitions in the 1980s and 1990s.
A book about the work of Anna Fárová was being published to accompany the exhibition.
The exhibition comprised several sections marking the individual stages of Fárová’s career. It included original works by photographers she has been professionally interested in (about 90 photos, most of which are vintage prints), documentary collages, articles, as well as other photographs and documents.
The exhibition began with a short biography and bibliography. The emphasis here was on her meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson, which led to her decision to focus on photography as an art historian. Famous works by André Kertész, Robert Capa, Werner Bischof, and other photographers from around the world are exhibited here together with Fárová’s monographs about them. The personal correspondence between Fárová and these acclaimed photographers also provided fascinating insight. The respect that she has enjoyed abroad is testified to, for example, by an article by her friend, the American writer, Arthur Miller, the manuscript of which was exhibited here.
Other parts of the exhibition were dedicated to her work about Josef Sudek and František Drtikol (both of whose photographic bequests Fárová sorted and catalogued, saving them from damage and perhaps even destruction) as well as other classics of Czech photography (Jaroslav Rössler and Jaromír Funke). Additional documentation illustrated Fárová’s ground-breaking work for the Museum of Decorative Art, Prague, conceiving the photography collection, organizing exhibitions, and acquiring works by now important photographers who were at the time still partly or completely unappreciated (including Eugen Wiškovský, Miroslav Hák, Jan Svoboda, and Zdeněk Tmej).
Special attention was paid to exhibitions that Fárová organized after having signed Charter 77 and consequently being dismissed from the Museum. The most important among them was the series of exhibitions at the Činoherní klub, Prague, “9&9,” in Plasy (1981), “11” at Fotochema, Prague, “37 Photographers Na Chmelnici,” Prague, as well as her work with émigré photographers (Josef Koudelka and Jindřich Přibík) and on the project Post and Radost. Apart from promoting contemporary photographers at home, she has also worked abroad promoting classics of Czech photography. In the 1970s and ’80s she used all the contacts she had established over many years to provide information about a country in which she herself had almost ceased to exist in the eyes of the authorities.
Not till after the Changes of 1989 could Anna Fárová personally receive the prestigious awards conferred on her in the West. In 1990, she received the Kulturpreis of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie. In 1991, after a tribute by Arthur Miller, she received the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, New York. And, in 2002, she received the Medal of Merit from the Czech President.