Criticized beauty of Jan Saudek

Updated: Oct 30, 2019


Jan Saudek, one of a kind, revolutionary, reckless.

He is one of the most important and renown Czech art photographers in the world.

Saudek has had over 400 solo exhibitions. His photographs are included to some of the world's most important art collections.

Born in Prague in 1983, his father was a Jew, so he and his family automatically became Nazi's target. Jan Saudek was still a child when his family suffered during the World War II. Little Jan together with his brother, was kept in Mischlinge, the concentration camp for children. Their father also was deported to the concentration camp. All of them survived the war.

The catastrophe of the war and the absence of a happy childhood are intensely shown in Saudek’s works. The artist often repeats his themes and styles, while he combines notions of eroticism and memories of a childhood, creating a surreal and dream-like result.

Saudek images are all about evocation, an evolution from child to adult, there are lots of nudity and semi-nudity in his work. And what's interesting is, he is not that type of photographer who tries to show you beauty, no, its opposite. In his images, he uses people who are overweight in absurd positions, old half nude ladies, young girls with cigarettes, midgets, and what interesting is that he loves posing himself nude as well!

In his ART he shows scenes of love, lust, interpersonal bond, family, youth, old age and all that comes between.

His provocative and shocking work has not always been widely accepted. On the contrary, Saudek has been criticized for the nature and content of his work, which often depicts controversial erotic scenes. In the works displayed below, Saudek’s sexually-charged, dreamy worlds interact with innocent but bold characters. Their sensuality in combination with the background, create a feeling of mysticism and spirituality, making Saudek’s paintings look like odes to three of the most important things in life. Life, death, and sex.


His work has been recurrently criticized and banned due to its controversial and sensitive objects.

His work balances between admiration and offense. Saudek has been accused of painting children in sexual environments. On August 21, 2011, during the opening of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, his work Black Sheep & White Crow was removed from the show, due to child prostitution reports.

It's hard to explain how his ART with all those themes of personal erotic freedom and wildness survived during the Communism regime.

Saudek lives in Prague now, he is happily married and had a baby a few years ago.


* Photos are curtesy of the Artist - Jan Saudek


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