The studio was in the centre of Prague, in the loft of the famous Topič publishing house. It achieved renown in portraiture and photos of children. After passing through a small vestibule, customers entered the space with skylights on the sloping ceiling. Here, photographs were made, retouched, and mounted, and sometimes, as well, paperwork and other business matters were seen to. In the darkroom, when one of the sisters was enlarging, the other sister was developing film.
The twins belong to the generation that was profoundly affected by two totalitarian regimes. Without being able to foresee it, out of pure interest in their sitters, they made portraits (many of which, unfortunately, have been lost) of future victims of Nazi terror, including Milena Jesenská, Josef Taussig, Julius Fučík, and Bedřich Stern. Risking their lives, the sisters helped the underground resistance right to the end of the war. The photograph of Vladimír Clementis, a victim of Communist judicial murder, comes from the late 1940s. After ten years of existence, the studio was closed in 1949, when private business was forbidden by the régime.
These two former pupils of Jaromír Funke at the State College of Graphic Arts, Prague, are important figures of the Czech arts scene owing both to their own original conception of photography and to their work’s value as testimony. Their art-college training provided them with firm foundations for their craft, and, above all, helped to give free reign to their vivid imaginations.
The joint retrospective presents unique documents, the different post-war lives of the two photographers and their work, both commercial and non-commercial: in Prague, Olga photographed productions of the Vinohrady Theatre; in Paris, Staša made collages out of her own photographs.
For their willingness to provide valuable help during the exhibition preparations and identification of the exhibited works, sincere thanks go to Anna Housková and Petr and Michel Fleischmann, the children of the photographers, and to Tomáš Vrba, the editor of Staša Fleischmannová’s memoirs, which were published by Torst under the title Vrstvami (Through the layers) in 2014.