© Josef Koudelka, 1963, Gypsies, Jarabina, Czechoslovakia
After completing a degree in aviation engineering, Josef Koudelka, born in Moravia in 1938 and a resident of Paris today, took his first steps as a photographer by working for a theatre magazine. In the early 1960s, the photographer, who would go on to become a Magnum member, began exploring the life of the Romani.
His social documentary Gypsies, published in 1975 and still considered one of the most important photography books of the 20th century today, depicts the life of these people in moving black-and-white images. Their circumstances, often marked by poverty, desolation and isolation, frequently leave the viewer with a depressing, oppressive feeling.
With this photograph, Koudelka, who foreswore the use of artificial lighting, impressively demonstrates the power of natural light in such a scene. Daylight streaming through the small window onto the open coffin creates a bright corridor, while the mourning family on either side is shrouded in dark grey. (+)
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