Publication Date



For nearly 40 years, the photographer Emila Medková (1928–1985) produced intimate and yet oblique images of textures and suggestive patterns inscribed across the surfaces of her native city of Prague. Medková was a member of the post-war Czech surrealist group, which boasts a notable history of weathering the fluctuating political and ideological pressures of first the Nazi occupation and then the Soviet era. Medková's work reflects the rich and various currents running through the development of photographic art and surrealism in pre- and post-war Czechoslovakia, and is identifiable by the combination of certain distinct elements: notably, the close-up attention to surface associated with the Czech New Objectivity movement; the documenting of the evocative corners of the city of Prague associated with the photography of pre-war surrealist Jindřich Štyrský; the exploration of a characteristically surrealist approach to visual analogy; and the black-humoured critique of reality that would become a defining characteristic of the Czech surrealist group. While Medková's work has very much been seen from within the history of the Czech surrealists' critique of assumed or imposed notions of reality, in the course of this essay we would like to suggest another route into her work that takes into account the feminist revision of art history in Eastern Central Europe over the last 15 years or so.

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.