MIROSLAV TICHY (photography)

Started by FreakAnimalFinland, May 16, 2012, 09:39:04 AM

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Couple years ago wrote about it in "art books" topic, but better to give him topic of his own.

Quote from: FreakAnimalFinland on November 08, 2010, 10:10:55 PM
Last summer, was walking around Stockholm. By accident, saw art book store. Went through the inventory, and this book by Miroslav Tichy immediately captured my eye. Heavy duty hardcover book with 3 blurry black'n'white photos pasted on the front. Had not heard about him at all. Browsed sample copy a bit, and was convinced this is what I need to have. Hesitated a bit due the price, yet then sacrificed some of the travel budget on it.

short bio:
After studying at the Academy of Arts in Prague, Miroslav Tichý (born 1926) withdrew to a life in isolation in his hometown of Kyjov, Moravia, Czech Republic In the late 1950s he quit painting and became a distinctive Diogenes-like figure. From the end of the 1960s he began to take photographs mainly of local women, in part with cameras he made by hand. He later mounted them on hand-made frames, added finishing touches in pencil, and thus moved them from photography in the direction of drawing. The result is works of strikingly unusual formal qualities, which disregard the rules of conventional photography. They constitute a large oeuvre of poetic, dreamlike views of feminine beauty in a small town under the Czechoslovak Communist régime.

His photographic work is obsessive with voyeuristic images of women, sometimes girls. Blurry, grainy, stained, damaged, scratched, cut & drawn on,... And this extensive collection exhibits several hundreds pieces of his works, scanned and printed in full size accurate replicas, including the hand made frames. Texts by various people, and also with more detailed history of his works and photos about his hand made equipment in his "studio".

Man was nearly unheard until few years ago, and all his photographic work dates several decades before it got published.
QuoteTichy never did anything to promote his art. Tichy distroyed a large part of his work, mostly passively, by leaving it to time and dust (and rats), sometimes actively by burning it in his oven. As all artists he enjoyed the late fame, that has come since 2005 but only in a indirect way he would express his appreciation and approval for books, articals, films and exhibitions. He lived a life in isolation and did not travel. He never had a telephone and never gave interviews. He never visited his exhibitions. Now he is too old and too ill and does not wish to be disturbed anymore

For more information and sample photographs, visit:


This huge collection book 1st edition is 2010, so I guess now is about the time to get it. I would bet than sooner or later it could be hard to find collectors item.

trailer of 2004 documentary "Tarzan Retired":

photo slideshow:

After that 2010 book, I managed to do couple more scores. 2008 published book simply titled "Tiscy" but according to internet sources, probably subtitled "Dedicated to the women of Kyjov". Nicely done hardcover looking a bit more of handmade/special book than simple mass production (that it probably is, though), with a lot of english text reading material, explaining the history and lifestory of the man. Publisher Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König (germany). Story from 2004 when man basically first entered again the global art world attention is very well done. By much younger artists who happened to live nearby and know this weird character. This book appears to be easy and cheap to get, so very recommended!

Then another I found was connected to Prague exhibition. I happened to be in Prague in big bookstore and noticed they were selling version which has czech and german texts. But found out there is also version in English + French. Found smaller bookstore which still had copy for sale. It's edited by Situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti. All works different from past books, including long analysis/text by Sanguinetti about Tichy, art and life in general. Good reading.

QuoteThis handsomely produced Tich monograph is unique among Tichy publications for two reasons: firstly because the photographs, drawn from private collections, are all previously unpublished; and secondly because it is conceived and authored by the Italian former Situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti, who has likewise come into conflict with state authorities, having been deported from France and Italy several times for his work with Guy Debord. The bulk of the photographs in this volume are derived from Sanguinetti's Tich collection, and are prefaced with a lengthy meditation on the photographer by Sanguinetti, who declares his admiration for Tich 's personal and artistic disregard for social conventions, and the anti-modernist character of his methods and materials.

Published by KLADENSKA KANT in late 2011 and 250 pages in A4 size hardcover is very very neat, but also one probably needs to prepare for higher price and brutal shipping rates, unless you live somewhere near unusually well run art book store?

In Tichy's work, there is hardly anything so "special". It's near random technically low quality accidental shots of surrounding reality. His targets, philosophy, surroundings (communist czechoslovakia), mental issues, prison sentences etc etc are what makes it stand out. It's more than just couple blurry photos.
He claims in one part of interview, that to gain attention in world, you need to be worse than everybody else to stand out. Yet he never tried to gain attention, but was given in in very very old age. He is still set separate from "neo-primitivists" / retro photographers because of quite unique take on his works and photography in general.

However, I recall when someone commented my works as "total Tichy worship", yet the works had been done before I had even heard of Tichy. This is good reminder how "art" what involves (for example):
Simply is timeless and without doubt a genetic impulse than a "trend" or specific art movement. You do not need influence and you don't need much of technical know-how, when the urge is driving force, not so much what all happens in global art-world. What sets Tichys work apart from "artists" is perhaps exactly his neglect towards professionality and taking care of his works. Nothing is dated, catalogued, preserved. Everything was pretty much treated as trash and amount of destroyed/burned (for heating?) images is unknown, yet without doubt massive.
I find the sheer MASS inspiring. Of course I naturally appreciate photographer who takes his time to make the perfect image and only produces and exhibits the masterworks, yet in style of and approach of Tichy, it would be foolish to pretend one image or couple accidental masterpieces would mean more, than the process + mass of output it resulted. So you can hardly experience his works by some short video trailer of images. I guess those 3 books mentioned, with close to 1000 images, it gets closer to be able to appreciate the several years of task he did, shooting c. 100 images a day of mostly women of the city. Including fully clothed, partially nude (beaches), old, young, younger.
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Nil By Mouth

Awesome! Thanks for the recommendation. This style remind me of something of your Lolita Voyeur series


Quote from: theotherjohn on May 16, 2012, 01:26:19 PM
I spotted one in New York last year at the New Museum that included several artists' responding/creating homage works to Tichy amidst his originals- the contemporary works didn't particularly win me over though but it might have had some previously unpublished works? Here it is: http://www.amazon.com/Artists-Tichy-Hans-Peter-Wipplinger/dp/3939738166

Perhaps Peter Beard succeeds, but based on the previews, it appears very uninspiring project to exist.

Quote from: theotherjohn on May 16, 2012, 01:26:19 PM
Can't help but think of modern (digital) equivalents being low-res voyeuristic/fetish videos filmed on mobile phones that can be found on obsessive YouTube channels and playlists - ones that are dedicated solely to a single obsession and are beyond amateur/shaky as hell, but offer a brief glimpse of the worship object amidst the glitchy chaos of pixels. The hunt is more rewarding than the catch, I suppose. What's the difference between these people and Tichy though? Is it solely the handmade nature of Tichy's cameras, his formal art background/intent, and outsider appearance? Or just the fame? Of course, I don't lay this criticism with Tichy but rather with the art world's needs to always have a frontier spokesman and name for every aesthetic. It's always a little troubling that recognition, exposure and the subsequent succession of expensive coffee table books makes an aesthetic and artists' work "safe" and acceptable, but hey what can you do... at least the artworks are now out there to be enjoyed. This gladdens and frustrates me in equal ways.

I don't think it is possible to compare mobile phone goofing with that.  It's like the comments about low sample rate mp3 being modern equivalent for tape. And I fail to see how exactly it would be so? "They both have shitty sound" -type of arguments appear to be clueless. One could check out history of art photography and how pictorialists approached it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pictorialism  see also great book on topic cheap priced, by Taschen some years ago). Tichy won't really qualify, but he has some similarities of manipulation and intent - "to paint with light". To associate his photography with painting rather than anything else?

Of course it is true, that art-world needs a character, story and scandal. Very few are interested in merely the works themselves.

Some random youtube voyeur clips don't awake feel of grandioso masterpiece any more than regular fuck film would awake feeling of fine-art.

"Low quality" and "primitive means" is such a strange topic due contradicting definitions: Is a brush primitive tool? Or paint? Can handcrafted camera producing magnificent magickal images be "low quality" - in same standards as low budget consumer electronics made in chinese factory that produces tourist gadgets?

While I would rate old fashioned film cameras with brush and oil paints (involving plenty of accidental elements, need of craftmanship, etc), as opposition there could be the automation and intentionally lesser quality within cheap mobilephone for photography and malfunctioning mouse as drawing device. Pencil or watercolor may be low-tech, yet it is still tool of the masters.

When one remembers, that perhaps vast majority of best photographic art is not to be confused with achievements of photographic technology to record reality is most accurate detail, it will be probably easier to approach subject. I personally am quite bored by most photography simply recording reality in accurate detail. In deed, it is missing the type of artistic hand I need to get something out of image.

To lust women and the need to see or capture women in picture, is not really "artistic quality" in man. I find it simply following genetic impulses. Methods, visions, results, etc. would finally reveal nature of those acts?
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Got this one last week, looks good:


Anyone seen this one? Is it any good/worth watching/buying?


Quote from: cr on April 05, 2014, 12:00:29 AM

Anyone seen this one? Is it any good/worth watching/buying?

Finally bought this last week (after it went down from more than 25€ to under 10€) and watched it right after Hellblock 13.
All in all it's a good documentary about an interesting man and his paintings and photographies, but all those gallerists and art collectors coming to his place to look at him like a monkey in a cage really disgusted me. Well I know, that's how the 'art world' goes.
I really liked his neighbour and friend Jana Hebnarová and her family. Good interview with her as well in the extras of the DVD.


I work as a researcher in the curatorial department at the Museum of Sex in New York (I'm an exhibiting artist by trade, but hold a day job because what can I say, not brave enough to forego a pay check), and a few years ago we had one of our better shows focusing on eroticism within outsider art. The idea was that because many of these artists were making work without the intention of ever showing it to anyone, it allowed a purer expression of perversion. We had Henry Darger, Morton Bartlett, Gil Batle, Eugene Von Bruchenheim and others.

We also had a bunch of Tichy prints and I became deeply fascinated in his work.