Fotograf Magazine

Fototorst

In the last decade, people interested in Czech photography had more occasion to be pleased than ever before. In addition to the growing number of exhibitions, a staggering number of books of differing quality were also published, sometimes at the author’s expense. Albums of the most diverse orientation, format and graphic conception continue to appear. The book series in a unified style published by two firms constitute an exception to this.

The FOTOMIDA firm published on average one monograph a year. At the last book fair, however, the publishers only exhibited the same books that were on offer last year; that is, eight books of the edition Osobnosti české fotografie (Prominent Figures of Czech Photography).

Since 2000, Viktor Stoilov’s TORST publishing house (www.torst.cz) has won recognition with its relatively inexpensive volumes oriented towards the general public. Recently, the firm published its tenth volume. The survey of individual figures, each represented by at least 75 reproductions, includes biographical information, bibliographies, lists of group and solo exhibitions, pieces included in public collections, as well as other useful information (such as texts by the  photographers and filmography). TORST has thus effectively entered the ranks of
encyclopaedia publications. An enlarged 18 x 16 cm square format was chosen, with English as the primary language. Czech was used as the second language. The one thematic book to date also includes a translation into German as it treats the general mobilisation of civilians for the war effort in the Third Reich. The print run differs from case to case. It is usually two to three thousand.

The edition entitled FOTOTORST is Stoilov’s second, much more successful, attempt at publishing a systematic series of albums of artistic photography. In 1994, the publisher stopped the first series after the release of two similarly designed books. This was the result of an inappropriate choice of height-width ratio. He first published the study by Petr Král, Fotografie v surrealismu (Photography in Surrealism), in the 19.5 x 13.7 cm format; this mainly included
illustrations made from square negatives. In the first monograph, Karel Cudlín, made with the same design, many of the wide shots ended up looking too small.

Viktor Stoilov founded TORST in the autumn of 1990 with the publication of his own photographic portraits of Czech writers silenced by the totalitarian regime. In the mid-1990s he helped into the world, among other things, the largest of the albums of Josef Sudek’s work, which has since been published in English and German. He is now preparing a Sudek monograph in a reference-book format. FOTOTORST, however, does not always provide a profile of a given photographer’s lifelong work. In one of the works mentioned above, only snapshots by the photographer Zdeněk Tmej from the period of wartime mobilisation from around 1943 were included. The book of photographs by the painter Jindřich Štyrský likewise covers a short period, most likely 1934–1935. Eventually, profiles of artistic groups should also be prepared. For the moment, I shall give a brief overview of the first ten works in the series.

Josef Moucha

#1 Face

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