Czech Republic loses renowned photographers: Sitenský, Reich
The Czech Republic has lost two renowned photographers, Ladislav Sitenský and Jan Reich, both of whom died at the weekend, the former at the age of 90, the other at just 67. Both men had an important impact on 20th century Czech photography, Sitenský during World War II, and Reich during the ‘Normalisation’ 1970s.
IW: You are associated with aviation and flying - were any of these photos taken from planes?
“No not one (laughs). It's true I've been six years with the Royal Air Force, but I never really felt really well in a plane. My stomach didn't like it.”
After the war and after the Communist putsch of 1948, the photographer shot politically “neutral” photographs, everything from calendars to tour books of then-Czechoslovakia. But he remained highly-respected - receiving an Order of Merit from the Czech president, Václav Klaus, in 2003.
“I was born after the Second World War and even after all those years I found areas that hadn't changed a bit. There weren't funds and so the city had stayed the same, not evolved for example like Paris which was becoming a modern city. I was worried that areas would disappear before I had a chance to photograph them. The factories and apartment blocks weren't posh but they had a poetry which was wonderful. At least the photographs captured what once existed. Still, for me it's not enough that they document, they must also capture layers of emotion.”
In addition, Reich earned acclaim for his 2005 publication Bohemia, capturing the Czech landscape; it was awarded Book of the Year in the prestigious Magnesia Litera competition. Both Jan Reich and Ladislav Sitenský were two of the country’s most accomplished photographers; both will be sorely missed.