Fotograf Magazine

1936: Photography and /history/ Structuralism on a Date in Prague

‘In the tendency to liberate the sign from the object […] one sees the decisive striving of all new art, which appears as the antithesis of naturalism.’            Roman Jakobson1

In the mid-1930s, the Mánes Association of Fine Artists (Spolek výtvarných umělců Mánes, hereafter SVU Mánes) made a significant attempt to attract greater attention to modern photography. Antonín Dufek made reference to this in the Czech-English catalogue for the exhibition Photography as Art in Czechoslovakia 1959–1968. He tended to underestimate, however, the local Czech production in relation to the international context. Dufek, who is head of the photography division of the Moravian Gallery in Brno, wrote: In direct relation with the decline of illustrated magazines, snapshots soon penetrated exhibition halls, where they had to be perceived as original works (while Steichen and his followers approached their exhibitions rather as if they were enlarged pages from illustrated magazines).’2

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