Fotograf Magazine

Revelation: Josef Binko

A profile of photographic work by Josef Binko (7 March 1879 – 11 Feb­ruary 1960) was compiled by the author of the introductory essay, Pavel Scheufler, an expert in the estate as well as the context of the origin of said work. As an art and photo historian concerned particularly with photography before the First World War, he found in Binko an eminent example of the Czech practice of the international movement of art nouveau Pictorialism. This also forms the well-justified criterion for the selection of the illustrations, even though Binko was active until the mid-1940s. Still, he was taking photographs as early as the late 19th century, soon becoming one of the foremost amateur photographers locally: several hundred of his gum-bichromate and oil prints survive, particularly from before the First World War. This makes it the most extensive collection of old creative photography in Bohemia. Binko’s prints can also be found in the National Technical Museum in Prague and the Moravian Gallery in Brno, while a large number of negatives are kept at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. In spite of this, a large part of the estate entrusted to Rudolf Skopec was lost, and Skopec in fact never realized his intent of publishing a monographic book on Binko.

As a photographer, Josef Binko related to the environment he came from and where he lived: the main source of his subject matter was the lovely landscape of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. He depicted it in photographs that were only finished with the sophisticated process of pigment printing. This drew him closer to the visual arts, which at the time also paid due attention to the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, Pavel Scheufler describes Binko’s legacy with a sober and thorough awareness of the creative aims of the period, presenting an artist who strove to intensify the experience of beauty.

The cultural significance of the legacy of Josef Binko, an entrepreneur from Krucemburk, later fell into oblivion, as Communist policy systema­tically suppressed personalities of his kind. (Although one is happy to hear that in spite of persecution by the regime Binko kept his joyful outlook on the world). As a photographer, his work was valued highly by specialists, but remained unknown to the general public. It is therefore of crucial significance that his work appears within the context of the TORST publishers’ edition. He is thus presented alongside Mucha, Hackenschmied, Sudek, Funke, Wid<ovskjr, Teige, Flossier, Medkova, Lukas, Holominek, Koudelka, Kolar; Kratochvil, Tichji and Stehli… Moreover, this series is published in a bilingual English-Czech edition, which is to say one suitable for export, already running to 25 volumes. And this time, as the photographs published were originally executed using pigment processes, the publisher duly opted to utilize full-color printing, something exceptional within the context of the edition.


Scheufler P. Josef Binko. Praha: TORST 2006, 74 plates, 148 pages, ISBN 80-7215-281-5.

Josef Moucha