Prague: eskoslovenský svaz t lesné výchovy a sportu, 1960.
Hardcover. Oblong folio measuring 17" x 12". Screw-bound tan leather over stiff paper boards with gilt titled. Contains 110 black and white or color silver gelatin photographs measuring between 3.5" x 9" and 8" x 10". Slightly bowed boards thus near fine with fine photographs.
Deluxe, large-format photograph album produced by the Czechoslovak Union of Physical Education as an homage to the massive Sokol coordinated gymnastics meeting held in Prague in 1960. The Sokol movement, founded in the 1860s by Miroslav Tyrš and Jind ich Fügner, became an important force for cultural unity during the Czech national revival of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and upon the founding of Czechoslovakia, the organization played a central role in the cultural life of the new nation. Quickly co-opted and re-formed as a mass propaganda tool by the communists following the coup of 1948, the now state-directed Sokol organization staged a series of so-called “Spartakiads” every five years from 1955, designed, in theory, to celebrate the Red Army’s liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945, though the 1970 event would be canceled in the aftermath of the Prague Spring. The 1960 event, depicted here, proved to be the largest-ever of its kind, gathering more than 700,000 gymnasts and nearly 2 million spectators. All of the color photographs in this album and the majority of the black-and-white images are the work of the important Czech photojournalist Stanislav Tereba, who had risen to international fame in 1958 when one of his sports-related photographs won the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year Award. A truly magnificent album, representing Tereba’s best work of the era, and including some images by his protégé and studio assistant, the young photographer Alexander Tóth. This album would likely have been one of a handful of copies, made as memory books for high-ranking communist party functionaries, though it could be unique.