(Above) Tichy was known to sit for hours in wait of his unknowing subjects. The photo is in a handmade paper frame.
(Above) Two girls caught in conversation.
(Above) Two “secret” photos by Tichy, who often ran afoul of the law for taking photographs of women on the street.
(Above) A rare photograph, where the subject has actually posed for her photograph (or, at least it seems).
(Above) Processing the photos was also done by extremely primitive means—the result often having bad spots in the development.
(Above) An unknowing female subject gives subject matter for a beautiful picture.
(Above) Tichy, with his hand sewn clothes and his camera... which was made with sewing spools, a lens from found eyeglasses, rubber bands, toilet paper tubes and found cardboard/glue. The result: the oddest working camera you will ever see— something you might see in the movie Mad Max, or WaterWorld—where technology is lost and has to be re-invented.
(Above) A spooky photo of another female. This image is so odd it looks almost like a pre-natal sonogram.

An Accidental Mysteries “Blast from the Past” from January 17, 2009.

MIROSLAV TICHY HAS BECOME FAMOUS in spite of his need for privacy. Born in 1926 in what is now the Czech Republic, Tichy studied painting at the Academy of Art in Prague until the Communist takeover in April 1945. Arrested for being “odd,” therefor subversive, Tichy spent many years in jails and prisons, until he was released in the 1970s. Upon his release, he wandered his small town in rags, pursuing his occupation as an artist photographing the female form in the streets. He made his cameras from tin cans, childrens spectacle lens and other junk he found on the street. He would return home each day to make prints on equally primitive equipment, making only one print from the negative he selected. He stole intimate glimpses of his subjects through windows and the fences of swimming pools as well as in the streets, sometimes finding himself in trouble with the police.

The work, which might appear to the casual viewer to be intrusive voyeurism, takes on a melancholy and poetic quality. They are exquisitely produced small objects of obsession, which have no equal. He produced work, not for others, but for himself, with no regard for selling or exhibiting his pictures. Tichey’s photographs were known only to a few until July 2004, when he won the “New Discovery Award” at Arles. An exhibition of his work was also shown at Kunsthaus in Zurich in September 2005, and was one of the most curious and controversial photographic events of 2005.

Tichy’s work is now red hot. I first saw his work at the Outsider Art Fair in 2007, when it was exhibited by Galerie Susanne Zander, from Antwerp. His work is also exhibited by the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London.

One of the best Web sites on Tichy is the Foundation set up on his behalf: Tichy Ocean.

Some of the above text about Tichy is from the Michael Hoppen Gallery. Top two photos, from Galerie Susanne Zander.