Jaromír Funke

Czechoslovakian, 1896—1945

About

Jaromír Funke

Czechoslovakian, 1896—1945


Photographer and theorist Jaromír Funke, along with František Drtikol, Josef Sudek and Jaroslav Rössler, was one of the most important practitioners of Czech avant-garde photography during the 1920s and 1930s. Jaromír Funke studied medicine, law and philosophy in Prague before turning to freelance photography in 1922. Influenced by Drtikol, he explored the intellectual and photographic possibilities of constructivism, surrealism, poeticism and expressionism, as well as traditional Czech lyricism and the concerns of the Devĕtsil group in Prague. In 1924, he founded the Czech Society of Photography with Sudek, advocating the abandonment of traditional modes of representation in favor of uniquely photographic methods such as the photogram. Funke is known for his experiments with light, shadow and reflection, his focused studies of simple objects, formally abstracted still lifes, and emphasis on diagonal lines and extreme angles. Funke was influential as a teacher, first at the School of Arts and Crafts in Bratislava from 1931—35 where he explored social documentary photography, and then at the State School of Graphic Arts in Prague from 1935—44. At great personal risk, Funke continued to edit and publish the avant-garde journal Photographic Horizon for two years after Czechoslovakia fell under Nazi occupation, and was active writing and organizing exhibitions until the end of his life.