Viktor Kolář

In the 1980s, documentary photography in Czechoslovakia could be personified, with some simplifi cation, by two people: Jindřich Štreit and Viktor Kolář. Both top-class photographers are characterized by deep social introspection on the one hand and a strong professional infl uence on the younger generation of local documentarists on the other. The different nature of the two personalities gave birth to two differing subjective views of the world and approaches to their own work. While Štreit frequently publishes and exhibits his photographs so that he has long become a legend, Kolář has not looked back and summed up the long years of work in a substantial way until now.

Viktor Kolář (* 1941) truly lived his photographs. By the year 1968 his life came a full circle at the beginning and end of which is Ostrava. It was there that he fi rst encountered photography, studied at a teacher's college, only to leave for Canada soon after the August occupation of the country by the Soviet Army. In Canada, he worked in a molybdenum mine and nickel foundry in Manitoba, later in photographic laboratories in Toronto. Throughout, he continued taking photographs. A government grant provided him at last with some measure of independence that he used for photographing in shopping centres near Montreal. Although it is evident that Kolář was a complete photographer even before emigration, it seems in retrospective that his experience with the emptiness of the consumerism of western society charged his statements with an uncompromising attitude and a punch. In 1973, Kolář returns, via Paris and London, to Ostrava. Back at home, at the peak of the normalization period, he was welcomed by police investigations, menial work in the Nová Huť (New Foundry) and, later, the job of a stage technician. He could not start to ply photography as his trade until 1985. After November 1989, his life gained a new dynamism. In 1991 he was awarded the prize of the Mother Jones Foundation in San Francisco, he travelled through the USA and lectured. Since 1994, he has been teaching at the Department of Photography of the Prague FAMU, where, in 2000, he became an assistant professor. Kolář is known for the monothematic nature of his work. For decades he has remained committed to documenting his native Ostrava. He created a spectacular monument, an original picture of the people and the times in a region that abounds in character.


11/3/2011 - 5/6/2011
Jiří Pátek
Entrance fee
80/40 Kč
Governor’s Palace
Date of exhibition opening
10/3/2011 17:00