Fedora Parkmann: Research & CV

Czech Photography under Socialism (1948-1968): between socialist realism and avant-garde

Research Area 1: Displacements, “Dépaysements” and Discrepancies: People, Knowledge and Practices
Research Area 2: Norms & Transgressions

The establishment of the communist regime in 1948 had a significant impact on Czech photography and brought about important changes, both functional and aesthetic. One of them was the development of an official doctrine inspired by socialist realism throughout the 1950s and the 1960s, which previous investigations have described as formally conservative, strictly official and dependent on the Soviet model. This project aims to critically reexamine these assumptions, by arguing that Czech photography under socialism was theoretically and formally diverse, and ambiguous in regard to the accepted dichotomy of socialist realism/avant-garde.

The project reconstructs the theoretical underpinnings of socialist realism and examines the way it was implemented in magazines, exhibitions, and the works of photographers. The period under examination spans from the dogmatic era of the early 1950s to the 1960s. During this later phase, critics and photographers, such as the leading Marxist art critic Lubomír Linhart, developed a conception of socialist realism that was less rigid and more open to modernist approaches. To understand the specificity of these Czech conceptions of socialist realism, it is furthermore necessary to examine the formative role of the legacy of Czech interwar social photography, to retrace the exchanges that took place with the USSR and other countries, and to ask to what extent photographers and critics referred to, or questioned, these foreign models.

The aim is to better situate Czech photography under socialism in relation to the established categories of socialist realism, avant-garde and modernism and reveal different, East European views, on these concepts. In this way, this project contributes to “globalizing Eastern Europe” (Anu, Hock, 2018), that is, challenging the assumption that the cultural experiences of the West should serve as a universal model of historical analysis.



  • 2017: Ph.D., Art History, Sorbonne University
  • Dissertation title: Paris – Prague: Transfers in Photography, 1918-1939
  • 2011: Master’s degree, Art History, Sorbonne University
  • 2010: Exchange student, M.A. Art History, Columbia University
  • 2009: Master’s degree (first year), Museology, École du Louvre (Paris)
  • 2007: Bachelor’s degree, Art History, École du Louvre (Paris); Bachelor’s degree, Art History, Sorbonne University


  • 2019: Research stay, Centre for French-Russian Studies, Moscow
  • 2014: Research Fellowship in Art History, Centre Pompidou, Paris
  • 2012: Louis Rœderer Research Fellowship in History of Photography, National Library of France, Paris

Courses taught

  • 2021: Instructor, Université de Lorraine, Nancy: Lecture on Avant-Garde Art: a transnational perspective (1905-1945) (24 hours)
  • 2018: Instructor, Université catholique de l’Ouest (Angers): Lecture & Workshop on History of Modern Art (1905-1945) (30 hours)
  • 2017-2018: Lecturer, Department of Art History, Sorbonne Université: Lectures & Workshops on History of Modern and Contemporary Art and History of Museums (192 hours)
  • 2016: Instructor, Université catholique de l’Ouest (Angers): Lecture & Workshop on the Nineteenth Century Image (24 hours)

Selected publications

Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • “Asserting Photography’s Social Function: Exhibitions of Soviet Photography in Interwar Czechoslovakia”, History of photography, n°1, vol. 45, 2022, to be published
  • “Un patrimoine visuel sous le communisme. La photographie amateur et sociale du président tchécoslovaque Antonín Zápotocký” (A Visual Heritage Under Communism. Amateur and Social Photographs by the Czechoslovak President Antonín Zápotocký), Photographica, n°1, Sept. 2020, p. 93-109
  • “Une histoire en deux actes : la photographie sociale tchèque de l’entre-deux-guerres au prisme de l’historiographie de l’ère communiste” (A History in Two Acts. Interwar Czech social photography through the filter of communist historiography), Transbordeur : photographie, histoire, société, n°4, 2020, p. 50-59
  • “Photographies parisiennes des surréalistes tchèques : des preuves à l’appui d’une mémoire partagée du surréalisme” (Photographs of Paris by Czech Surrealists as Evidence of a Shared Memory of Surrealism), Marges, revue d’art contemporain, n°29, 2019, p. 84-102
  • “Du photomontage comme trace de la circulation des savoirs artistiques. Le cas de Karel Teige” (Collage as a Trace of Artistic Transfers. The Case of Karel Teige), Histoire de l’art, n°78, 2016/1, p.117-130
  • “Logique circulatoire de la photographie imprimée. Le cas des revues d’avant-garde tchèques” (How Printed Photography is Circulated. The Case of Czech Avant-Garde Periodicals), Artl@s Bulletin, n°2, 2015, p. 14-25
  • “Vilem Kriz (1921-1994) : la photographie surréaliste dans l’engrenage du temps” (Vilem Kriz : Surrealist Photography Caught in the Wheels of Time), Revue de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, n° 47, Oct. 2014, p.68-77
  • “Un avatar tchécoslovaque de la Fifo : ‘l’Exposition internationale de photographie, Prague, 1936’ ” (A Czechoslovak Variation on Fifo: The International Photography Exhibition, Prague, 1936), Études photographiques, n° 29, May 2012, p.43-81

Selected Paper Presentations

  • “The Geopolitics of Photography Exhibitions. Showcasing Soviet Photographers in Interwar Czechoslovakia”, VIIth Congress of Czech Art Historians, 23–25 Sept. 2021, Ústí nad Labem, Université J. E. Purkyně
  • “The Entangled Reception of Ukrainian and Soviet Photography in Interwar Czechoslovakia”, International conference Kharkiv Photo Forum, 18 – 21 Aug. 2020, Kharkiv, online
  • “Les albums de famille du président Antonín Zápotocký : mémoire privée, enjeux publics”, Conference Patrimoines photographiques : histoire, ethnologie, émotions, 7 – 8 Nov. 2019, Paris, Musée des Arts décoratifs
  • “Triangular Circulation. Interwar Photograms between France, Germany and Czechoslovakia”, International conference Practices, Circulation and Legacies. Photographic Histories in Central and Eastern Europe, 8 – 10 May 2018, Ljubljana, City Museum of Ljubljana
  • “Psychogéographies parisiennes dans la photographie des surréalistes tchèques”, International workshop Paris – haut-lieu urbain, institutionnel et artistique de la photographie, 3 – 7 July 2017, Paris, Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art
  • “Aspects internationaux de la photographie sociale en Tchécoslovaquie”, International symposium L’internationale de la photographie sociale, 3 March 2017, Paris, Institut national d’histoire de l’art
  • “An Example of Interwar Czech-Russian Cultural Transfer. The Czech Worker Photography Movement”, International conference East Central Europe in the First Half of the 20th Century – Transnational Perspectives, 14 – 16 Jan. 2016, Leipzig, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas
  • East Central Europe in the First Half of the 20th Century – Transnational Perspectives, 14 – 16 Jan. 2016, Leipzig, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas.