RIP Miroslav Tichý

RIP Miroslav Tichy, April 12th 2011

Artist and photographer Miroslav Tichy passed away on April 12th, 2011 (b.1926).

Although I have been aware of his work for a few years, and have read a little about his methods with home made cameras and so on, I don’t really know a whole lot about him. However well he was known (or not) in Czech, he seems to have come to prominence in the western world around 2004, when he was exhibited in Seville (BIACS). When I learnt about his death I did a quick search around the web and came across an excellent article on American Suburb X. The following is a paragraph from the article, by Roman Buxbaum, who was a neighbour of Tichy’s as a child:

The only thing I know for sure about the beginning of Tichy’s work in photography is that the first camera he began to use sometime in the 1960s was an old field camera inherited from his father. The photos are without numbers and without dates. The way they were stored has meant they have been shuffled again and again like playing cards. Approximate dating is possible only by judging from the styles of clothes, kinds of cars, and other things in the photos. The materials on the reverse side of the mounting and the frames also reflect the times when Tichý used them. Most of the photographs were made in the 1970s and 80s. I had a planned number I wanted to do: I would make such and such a number a day, such and such a number in five years, and when I did it, I quit. He bought his film, photographic paper, and chemicals from a drugstore next to the church. To save money, he often bought 60-mm film and then in the darkroom cut it lengthwise into two strips. He set up a darkroom on the courtyard of his house. He made himself an enlarger from boards and two slats, which he pulled out of the fence. The slats are joined together with sheet metal so that they can be slid in and out lengthwise, that’s how he focuses the picture. To keep the enlarger head from slipping, he wedged a piece of sheet metal between the slats. Obrzek He made the lamp box by placing a light bulb into a tin can. He took a lens from a disused camera. Between the light source and the lens he made the negative tray out of plywood with a hole for rewinding the spool of the negatives. The whole enlarger was hermetically sealed with black paper, tape, and shreds of fabric.

The article is long (put the kettle on), but well worth a read. There is a wealth of other information around the web on Tichy, and there is an official site (I assume it’s the official site) here.

– Rory

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