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Careful Observations: Miroslav Tichy

December 28, 2009

Miroslav Tichý (November 20 1926) is a Czech photographer and painter.

During many years Tichý wandered the small Moravian town of Kyjov (in the Czech Republic) in rags, pursuing his obsession with the female form by secretly photographing women in the streets, shops and parks with cameras which he made from paper towel tubes, thread spools, rubber bands, tin cans, children’s spectacle lenses and other junk he found on the street.

Tichy described his trash cameras as being the only way to add enough poetic imperfections to photography. He would return home each day to make prints on equally primitive equipment, making only one print from the negatives he selected. His work remained largely unknown until 2005, when he was 79 years old.

In the 1940s Tichy studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Prague but after the communist takeover in 1948 he dropped out of the school and returned to Moravia (in the east of the Czech Republic). The solitary artist started with paintings, figurative drawings and settled with photography, sticking to his main motive – women. Back in the 60s he used to make about 90 pictures a day. Unnoticed and unknown he behaved like a voyeur trying to capture a precious moment.

“When I was a little boy, my grandmother used to tell me: “Wash your hands – otherwise you are going to be like Mirek Tichy.” For my grandmother he was a forbidding example. For me he has always been a magnet,” says Roman Buxbaum, the person who introduced the name Tichy to the world. The photographer’s friend from childhood, he emigrated to Switzerland with his parents. When he after many years returned to his birthplace he discovered the photographs and started exhibiting them abroad.

“These days there are plenty of artists that take photographs. They have the most modern digital equipment and the best computer software. They all try to make their pictures look crude. They want something like a document of a reality. But can you believe a thirty-year-old university graduate? Does he really know what is crude? It is simply impossible, especially in comparison to Miroslav Tichy. He lurks in a horrible worn out coat and – from behind bushes and walls – takes photographs of fragments of female nudity or the steps of a woman walking down a street.”

The photographs are puzzling. They are not focused, not well developed and damaged by weather and careless handling. They were never meant to be exhibited and even now Miroslav Tichy objects to the success and fame. He carefully chooses the people he talks to and shares his opinions with. He has described exhibitions as a waste of time and says this world is nothing more than “a double shit”.

Read more in Radio Prague.

-V

8 Comments leave one →
  1. newgrass permalink
    December 28, 2009 9:09 am

    WOW. Incredibly cool and fascinating.

  2. December 30, 2009 1:14 pm

    great post, the camera looks amazing

  3. January 4, 2010 11:43 am

    Just so amazing!!! Absolutely born Artist!

  4. January 15, 2010 8:17 pm

    hallo, I chanced upon your blog while searching for pictures of the beautiful Jean Seberg – the search led me to yr old blog and then to this 🙂 But anyway, I love your posts and all the lovely fotos. And wow, Miroslav Tichy – he’s either a creep, or a really talented man with an eye for all things beautiful. It’s just bizarre and contradicting that I find his photos both disturbing yet poetic at the same time! But I think it’s amazing how he build his own camera and developed the photos using such primitive methods!

  5. December 29, 2010 9:55 pm

    That is truly incredible – he really is an artist , almost as old as I am:-))

  6. December 30, 2010 4:00 pm

    His images have a surreal magnetism to them, but his greatest creation, is the camera ITSELF!!!

  7. April 13, 2011 2:26 pm

    Artist passed away on 12 April 2011.

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