For almost thirty years, Josef Koudelka travelled to almost 200 Mediterranean archeological sites of which he took hundreds of panoramic black and white photographs.

In this sublime exhibition, the Bibliothèque nationale de France unveils 110 exceptional prints of this unprecedented exploration by Koudelka: a largely unseen ensemble that reveals the strength and beauty of Koudelka’s visual expression. In a scenography that conjures a tour of an archeological site, the vertical and horizontal panoramics of the exhibition interact with each other with a strength that recalls Prosper Merimée’s phrase: “Photography, stronger that monuments”.

Josef Koudelka does not wish to immortalize antique ruins, to freeze them in a romantic vision. On the contrary, he comes back again and again to the same sites, to capture the evolutions caused by the destructive passage of time and man, by the nature reclaiming its rights.

This exhibition is accompanied by Koudelka’s exceptional donation to the BnF’s department of engraving and photography, of almost 170 prints from the same series.

The book Ruins is published by Editions Xavier Barral/BnF in French, and Aperture in English, with texts by Alain Schnapp, Héloïse Conésa, and Bernard Latarjet.

The maximum, that is what has always interested me

Josef Koudelka

Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), Paris
BnF François-Mitterrand,
Quai François Mauriac,
Paris 75013

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