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Josef Koudelka, (Student on tank, eyes crossed out), 1968, gelatin silver print, 6 1/2 × 9 7/8". From the series “Invasion,” 1968.

Josef Koudelka

The Art Institute of Chicago

Josef Koudelka, (Student on tank, eyes crossed out), 1968, gelatin silver print, 6 1/2 × 9 7/8". From the series “Invasion,” 1968.

Moravian-born French photographer Josef Koudelka gained renown in early-1960s Czechoslovakia for his portraits of social groups—from the Roma to avant-garde theater collectives—but it was not until 1984 that he came forward as the previously anonymous “Prague Photographer” who captured the 1968 Soviet invasion of that city. While this striking body of work (parts of which ran as photo-essays in London’s Sunday Times and Look magazine) earned the artist inclusion on the Magnum roster, Art Institute curator Matthew S. Witkovsky’s nuanced retrospective of the artist, “Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful,” resisted reducing its subject’s oeuvre to reportage.

The exhibition presented approximately 160 photos that extended from Koudelka’s early work in late-’50s Prague to “Exile,” a series initiated in the ’60s and continued after the artist fled Czechoslovakia in 1970 (the

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