I don’t honestly remember how I ended up getting Chaos by Josef Koudelka that was revised by Robert Delpire; but I’m glad that I did. Admittedly, even as someone who used to work at Magnum, I never knew who Josef Koudelka was. But I’m elated that my first introduction to his work is through this book instead of meandering on a website or social media page. In fact, Josef Koudelka Chaos is perhaps the greatest black and white photography book that I’ve ever seen because it treats his images with the respect they deserve by dedicating a ton of real estate space to the work. This book truly feels like one made by a photographer and not a book publisher.
When you look at the book itself, you’ll notice that it’s wider than it is taller. Surely, it doesn’t follow the typical conventional book format. And that’s because the prints are designed to treat the images with reverance worthy an omnipotent being. Cultists who love panoramic photography are bound to gather lovingly hand-in-hand with black and white photography and documenary photography lovers to celebrate and honor the one true Josef Koudelka. I own and am pitched a ton of photography books, but none have struck me like this.
Let me first start of with saying that because I’d never heard of this photographer and the unconventional shape of the book, I was ready to write it off. But that would’ve been a great injustice and truly judging the book by its cover. It’s only when you dive deep into the pages past the first few photos that you really are given a special treat. The consistency throughout the book is just the cherry on top of the sundae.
The Brilliance of Josef Koudelka Chaos
What you should know about Josef Koudelka Chaos is that it’s a book of all black and white panoramic images. I was previously ready to call them landscape — but instead they’re straight up panoramic. These images are shot both vertically and horizontally; and that adds a layer of depth to the images that I haven’t ever seen before done in a book.
First off, very few images are broken down by the middle crease. However, unlike my complaints about it with several other books, it’s done very well here because of the relative thinness of the book. So you rarely ever feel like a page bending a bit is ruining the photograph.
The landscape oriented photos have their own pages dedicated to them unless they’re split across both pages. In contrast, the vertical images are often all placed by one anohter. Because of how they’re placed, your eyes need to sit there and really concentrate on each photo instead of moving from left to right. Your eyes instead focus on the left to right side of the left side, middle, and then the right side. When you look at all three images together, they form giant, unconventional compositions that are both fascinating and worthy of lectures professing their brilliance.
Who Should Buy it?
Photographers that have thoughts against the wars going on will also really appreciate these photographs. While none of the images are graphic, they surely depict scenes that make you think. Those who adore urban geometry and analog film photography will be elated to page through thie book.
Josef Koudelka Chaos receives five out of five stars and our Editpr’s Choice award. It is absolutely the most brillian photography book that I’ve seen in a long time. Want one? Check it out on Amazon.