Koudelka’s "Invasion 68 Prague" Opens in Brussels • Josef Koudelka • Magnum Photos

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Josef Koudelka Prague, Czechoslovakia. August, 1968. © Josef Koudelka | Magnum Photos

In 1968, Josef Koudelka was a 30-year-old acclaimed theatre photographer who had never made pictures of a news event. That all changed on the night of August 21, when Warsaw Pact tanks invaded the city of Prague, ending the short-lived political liberalization in Czechoslovakia that came to be known as Prague Spring. In the midst of the turmoil of the Soviet-led invasion, he took a series of photographs which were miraculously smuggled out of the country.

Josef Koudelka Prague. Czechoslovakia. August 1968. © Josef Koudelka | Magnum Photos
Josef Koudelka Warsaw Pact troops invasion, Prague. Czechoslovakia. August 1968. © Josef Koudelka | Magnum Photos

A year after they reached New York, Magnum Photos distributed the images credited to “an unknown Czech photographer” to avoid reprisals. The intensity and significance of the images earned the still-anonymous photographer the Robert Capa Award. Sixteen years would pass before Koudelka could safely acknowledge authorship.

Forty years after the invasion, this impressive exhibition features nearly 180 of these searing images, personally selected by Koudelka from his extensive archive.

Organizers: Aperture, Czech Centre Brussels, Embassy of the Czech Republic to the Kingdom of Belgium, Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU, Representation of South Moravian Region to Brussels, Prague House.

Josef Koudelka Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague. Czechoslovakia. August 1968. © Josef Koudelka | Magnum Photos