Modern Vintage in Grotesque Erotic Photos by Jan Saudek
25 January 2021 

Modern Vintage in Grotesque Erotic Photos by Jan Saudek

In October, we’ve published an article devoted to pornographic daguerreotypes of the 19th century. The Czech photographer Jan Saudek (born 1935) creates his sensual hand-colored daguerreotypes today, using the photograph as a sketch. Saudek treats the color as a way to accentuate details, like model make-up or her veins.

photo portrait Jan Saudek

Fig. 1. Jan Saudek, early 2000s (alchetron.com)

The Camp and the Camera

Jan Saudek and his twin brother Kaja Saudek, being born in the family of a Czech mother and Jewish father, survived the holocaust. The mother died in a camp, but the father was left alive by a miracle as his sons. Saudek began his career as a photographer in 1950 when he bought his first camera Kodak Baby Brownie. Despite being prolific, the photographs made by a holocaust witness living in his youth under a Soviet regime have a dark shadow on them. Saudek often makes his shots in sepia or b&w colors, but even hand-colored photos reminding of vintage works seem disturbing, partly due to their soviet surroundings with scuffed walls and carpets everywhere.

Saudek’s Pieta.

Fig. 2. Saudek’s Pieta. (astrozet.net)

standing 69 saudek

Fig. 3. Standing 69 (blogspot.com)

saudek erotic

Fig. 4. Pinterest.com

nudes watching tv saudek

Fig.5. Pinterest.com

posing nudes saudek

Fig. 6. WordPress.com

Jan Saudek photographer

Fig. 7. photographize.co

Jan Saudek naked splits

Fig. 8. astrozet.net

Jan Saudek spanking

Fig. 9. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek nude couple and kid

Fig. 10. astrozet.net

The Family of Man

At the beginning of the 1950s, Saudek was an apprentice of a photographer. Being forced by the government, he started working in a print shop. In the 1960s, he underwent military service. His photographic activity stopped being a hobby in 1963 after he had seen the catalog of the exhibition of the American photographer Edward Steichen (“The Family of Man”). Since that time, he began studying and working to become a professional photographer. By the end of the 1960s, he traveled to the USA and attended the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jan Saudek spanking female

Fig. 11. pinterest.com

Jan Saudek riding nude females

Fig. 12. twitter.com

Jan Saudek nude female kissing hand

Fig. 13. ‘The Deep Devotion of Veronika‘  (blogspot.com)

Jan Saudek nude female with scary mask

Fig. 14. juzaphoto.com

Jan Saudek female sucking her own feet

Fig. 15. blog.libero.it

Work in Prague

After the return to Prague, Saudek had to work secretly not to attract the local police. At that time, he was considered by authorities as a pornographer. Saudek lived in poverty, and his studio was a room in a basement. Its’ modesty can be seen in lots of Saudek’s pictures. In the late 1970s, his works start gaining popularity in the Western world. The first book of his photographs was published in 1983 when he became a freelance photographer.

Jan Saudek nude female from the back

Fig. 16. astrozet.net

Jan Saudek female licking her own breast

Fig. 17. astrozet.net

Jan Saudek erotic art

Fig. 18. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek screaming nude girl

Fig. 19. ‘Dianus‘ (blogspot.com)

Jan Saudek nude blonde girl embraced by many hands

Fig. 20. blogspot.com

Lost Negatives

In the 1990s, Saudek collaborated with Taschen, which allowed him to be more notable in the artistic world. He still works in lives in Prague. During the 2000s, Saudek’s lost his photo negatives, so his pictures are being displayed on the web for free.

Taschen Jan Saudek

Fig. 21. Taschen book (catawiki.nl)

Motifs and Themes

Saudek’s works contain some recurring motifs and compositions. The same poses are repeated with different characters: adults or kids. The topics are the man and woman relationship, sex, nudity, flagellation, suicide, teen sexuality, male dominance, etc. Saudek’s photographs seem to be a dark carnival world of Dostoevsky’s novels with child prostitution and consumptive blush. Jan Saudek appears to be a witness of decadent scenes of the XIX-XXth centuries in his modest basement studio. During his career, Saudek released dozens of publications. His works became covers of several music albums.

Jan Saudek nude girl putting a gun in her mouth

Fig. 22. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek nude females holding a sword

Fig. 23. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek nude female holding a knife

Fig. 24. ‘The Knife‘ (blogspot.com)

Jan Saudek semi nude female wearing a hat holding a knife

Fig. 25. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek embracing females

Fig. 26. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek anorexia nervosa

Fig. 27. The cover of “Anorexia Nervos” (“Black Sheep and White Crow”, 1995), tshirtslayer.com

Censorship

Jan Saudek mother and child

Fig. 28. theage.com

In 2011, the photograph of a semi-naked prepubescent girl (the work of 1995 “Black Sheep & White Crow”, fig. 28) was removed from the Ballarat International Foto Biennale before its’ opening. For the festival not to lose its’ funding next year, the director decided to withdraw the work depicting a mother prostituting her child.

Jan Saudek nude holding flowers

Fig. 29. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek semi nude holding her hand before her private parts

Fig. 30. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek semi nude corpulent females

Fig. 31. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek young girl smoking

Fig. 32. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek child kissing hand

Fig. 33. artsandculture.google.com

Jan Saudek photography

Fig. 34. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek acrobatic female

Fig. 35. blogspot.com

Jan Saudek mirroring female nude

Fig. 36.’Teen Queen‘ (1987)  blogspot.com

Sources: Wikipedia.org, blogspot.com, theage.com

Click HERE for Darya’s earlier article on pornographic daguerreotypes or HERE for vintage Japanese erotic photographs..!!

What do you think about Saudek’s photographic work? Leave your reaction in the comment box below…!!

About the author
Darya is a philologist who lives and works in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. She is specialized in Russian literature.
JB
By

JB

on 29 January 2021

Saudek is one of my favorite "bizarre" artists. When I discovered him, my first thought was, "Everything coming out of Prague is superb! He's just right up there, side-by-side with The Animator of Prague, Jan Švankmajer!" Saudek, Joel-Peter Witkin, Pierre Molinier, Alvin Booth, to mention those always present, all live in a Paradise Lost (or is it a Found Hell?, or a Purgatory Dreamt?,) of their own making!

Darya
By

Darya

on 29 January 2021

Švankmajer is my favorite. As far as I know, he planned to create a collage-book of beasts together with his wife. The fact that this book was never released makes me upset.

JB
By

JB

on 29 January 2021

I'm with you on that one! Any project he didn't finish is a big loss!

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