Experiencing Interruptions?

Jan Lukas: Manhattan Is The World

“Manhattan is not New York, as New York is not America. But it is the world -and that is enough for a photographer.” – Jan Lukas.

In 1945-1965 Jan Lukas’ photographic body of work "Political Unrest" documented the turbulent political times he was living through under the Russian occupation of his home country Czechoslovakia. While it was mainly documentary photography for which he became known he also captured crucial moments of Czechoslovak history: with pictures of president Edvard Benes at the time of the Munich Agreement and documented the mobilization of Czech troops, Nazi occupation, liberation rise of communism and oppression of the fifties.
After his emigration in 1965, the publication of Jan’s photos was prohibited in Czechoslovakia.
After his American Dream came true and he obtained US citizenship in 1971, he set to work on the book The Islanders where he documented life in Manhattan, Jerusalem, West Berlin, and Taiwan. This body of work was inspired by freedom and the lack there-of.
When Jan Lukas finally made it to Manhattan his extensive body of work took course. He took great inspiration from observing the multitudes of characters and was inspired by the great Saul Steinberg and the New Yorker Cartoonists. Taking inspiration from the quote-unquote satire of these cartoonists, he took this type of approach and naturalized it into his street photography.
“He endeavored to be the photographer version of those guys- you know, a wink-wink smile when you see this. Isn’t our culture weird? That’s what defined his work: his love of cartoons and social commentary.” – A.M Lukas (Granddaughter of Jan Lukas and Film-maker.)
This year Rosie Footitt produced and directed this short essay on Jan Lukas’s work in alliance with his granddaughter A.M Lukas annotating his body of work. Not only did he honor the vast diversity of America but he was a photographer who documented the entirety of the 21st century. This was originally created in mind of the Nowness Photographers In Focus series but not selected because of Ana’s profile being not really suitable to the style of the platform. Still, we believe the film essay serves as a beautiful capture of Lukas’s appreciation of the human spirit.

  • Rosie Footitt
  • A.M Lukas
    One Cambodian Family Please For My Pleasure (Director)
  • Rosie Footitt
  • A.M Lukas
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 21, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director - Rosie Footitt