Friday, December 23, 2016
Viktor Kolář (1941) is a Czech photographer. Kolář, along with Jindřich Štreit, is considered one of the most important exponents of Czech documentary photography. In his works, Kolář focuses mainly on depicting urban life in the Ostrava region.
His father, a self-taught filmmaker and photographer, was the owner of a photo studio and photo shop, an important factor in leading young Viktor to photography. In 1953, he began taking photographs, and soon familiarized himself with the works of renowned photographers, particularly Henri Cartier-Bresson.
From 1960 to 1964, he studied at the Photographic Institute in Ostrava. In October 1968, after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, he emigrated to Canada, where he worked as an assistant in the molybdenum mines and as a worker in the nickel smelters in Manitoba. From 1971 to 1973, he participated in documenting shopping malls in Montreal, which resulted in an exhibition in Montreal. In Canada and the USA, Kolář met photographers Michael Semak, William Ewing and Cornell Capa.
In 1973, however, he returned to Czechoslovakia through Paris and London. His return to the communist country was questioned by state authorities and Kolář and as a former emigrant (and therefore considered unreliable by the regime), he gradually lost the possibility to work as a photographer. At the time of deep "normalization", he worked as a laborer in Nová Huť Steelworks. However, he covertly continued his photographic documentation of the Ostrava region.
After the Velvet Revolution, he began to teach documentary photography at FAMU in Prague, where he was appointed Associate Professor (in 2000). He also travelled and lectured through the USA.