Photographer Vaclav Chochola dies at 82


At the weekend Prague lost one it most famous photographers, Vaclav Chochola, who died after brief illness at the age of 82. Chochola, whose hey-day lasted from the 40s throughout the 1970s, was one of the most respected photographers in Czechoslovakia; even those who unfamiliar with his name will have seen his photo of painter Salvador Dali in Paris, in 1969. The somewhat weary-looking Dali casts a playful eye at the camera, as he holds up a single perfect egg.

Vaclav Chochola photographed many in the 60s cultural limelight including famous Czech actors and actresses such as the beautiful Jana Brejchova, the star of numerous 60s films and psychological pieces in the 70s. But, Chochola was not limited to just stars, or for that matter any single genre: his work includes scenes from the war and the Prague Uprising, Prague streets with a life of their own, and even the funeral of Jan Palach, the university student who killed himself in protest of the Soviet-led invasion of 1968. For the last, Chochola spent a month in prison, sentenced by the communist regime.

In old age Chochola - who had been a contemporary of painters like Kamil Lhotak and writers like Bohumil Hrabal - continued working, if at a less intensive pace. He enjoyed a major exhibition at Prague's Clam-Gallas Palace in 2003 and his life and work were among those examined in a recent documentary by renowned filmmaker Vera Chytilova. Chochola's work can currently be viewed as part of a wider exhibition on Czech photography underway at the Municipal Library in Prague.