Aperture - Josef Koudelka (1975)
1975/2011 : Koudelka, « Gypsies »
The exhibition Gypsies presented at Arles last summer revealed the history of the publication of this seminal work by Josef Koudelka. The show was as anecdotal as it was representative of the evolution of photography publishing. It was also the opportunity to compare the dual visions that a photographer and an editor have of the same work, and more generally, to grasp the individuality of each of those visions. For those who might have missed it, here once again is the story of this editorial epic.
In 1975, Koudelka’s photographs of gypsies were published by Robert Delpire and Aperture. This legendary book quickly went out of print and was not published again. In 2011, Koudelka unearthed an early layout from the same project. At the time, its informality had been considered too out of step with editorial standards. He decided to republish with Aperture an expanded selection of photographs. This time the project would be presented as imagined by the artist. Forty-nine images were added to the original edition, arranged in a layout which strengthened and expanded Koudelka’s narrative scope, a blend of humanity and mysticism, of strangeness and familiarity. The progression of this story composed over the course of a dozen years unfolds in a rhythm as lively as the community it documents. Barely a year after its release, this second version is already as legendary as the first.