Katarina Masterova (Institute of Art History, The Czech Academy of Sciences) discusses the objecthood of Josef Sudek's photographic archive.
This paper examines the process of revaluing Josef Sudek’s (1896–1976) professional archive of almost 20,000 photographic reproductions of works of art housed in the photo library of the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Transferred from Sudek’s studio in 1978, this collection was, until recently, interpreted merely as an art historical tool to view the depicted artworks. The paper discusses the ways in which restoring the objecthood of the analogue photographs facilitates the process of reclaiming and re-identifying the archive’s lost functions and meanings. Thus this methodological shift reconstructs the archive as a multifunctional reservoir, which, through the process of transfer between various spaces, uncovers innovative analytical approaches and produces new layers of historical knowledge.