Antanas Sutkus (b. 1939) bought his first camera as a child, having not earned enough to buy a bicycle when digging peat with his mother. He later became a photojournalist and, since 1968, has worked as an independent photographer. He has also helped Lithuanian photographers gain international recognition as co-founder and President of the Photography Art Society of Lithuania, which championed photography as an art form. His humanistic approach, heavily influenced by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, comes to the fore in his images of people, young and old. Filled with romance, beauty and sadness, they move beyond photographic realism to resemble stills from an unmade film. His stated aim is ‘to make an attempt at drawing a psychological portrait of contemporary man’.

Beyond recording events, Sutkus’ keen eye finds history within human faces: ’One has to love people in order to take pictures of them.’ His black and white portraits manage to avoid sentimentality but have great pathos. One series bears witness to Soviet rule in Lithuania during the Communist era and shows ordinary Lithuanians going about their everyday quotidian lives, which provides a striking contrast to the model citizens and workers promoted by Soviet propaganda. His series taken in an orphanage for blind children produced the profoundly affecting Blind Pioneer (1962). Sutkus is also famous for his portraits of Jean-Paul Sartre, taken when he and Simone de Beauvoir visited Lithuania in 1965. These two famous French intellectuals were accompanied on a trip to the dunes of the Curonian Spit by a group of Lithuanian writers and artists, including the still unknown 26-year-old photographer Antanas Sutkus, who managed to capture his iconic portrait of the great existentialist.

In 2001-02, Sutkus won the Erna & Victor Hasselblad Foundation Grant, Sweden, for ‘Documentation and Conservation of Antanas Sutkus’ Archive of Photographs’. In 2011 he was nominated for the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize. In 2015 he has been granted the honourable state award of France – the order of art and literature for the dissemination of French culture.

Select Collections

Lithuanian Museum of Art, Vilnius; National Library, Paris; Museum of French Photography, Paris; Museum of Photography, Helsinki; International Centre of Photography, New York; Institute of Arts, Chicago; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm; Moscow House of Photography; Folkvang Museum, Essen, Germany; DeCordoba Museum, Lincoln, USA; Contemporary Art Museum, Riga, Latvia; Photography Museum, Odense, Denmark; F.C. Gundlach’s Collection, Hamburg; Gallery Le Chateau d’Eau, Toulouse, France; Museum Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Brazil.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2016

Paris Photo, Prismes sector, Grand Palais, Paris, November, 2016

In Memoriam. To Kaunas and Vilnius Jewish Ghetto Survivors, Whites Space Gallery in partnership with Cultural Dialogue, London, United Kingdom, September – October, 2016

2015

People‘s Diary, STP gallery, Greifswald,  Germany

J. P. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in Lithuania. 1965, Gallery 35

Sarte et Beauvoir en Lituanie, French Institute in Czech, Prague, March – April, 2015

Antanas Sutkus. Litauen, CAMPOI gallery, Munich, Germany

2014   

Untitled, Art gallery VARTAI, Vilnius 

Nostalgia for Bare Feet, Botucatu, San Paulo, Brazil 

Daily Life Archives. 1959-1992, Oliva Arauna gallery, Madrid

J. P. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in Lithuania. 1965, French Institute in Spain, Madrid

Daily Life Archives 1965 – 2012, Albrecht gallery, Berlin

2013   

J. P. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in Lithuania. 1965, Art festival Artes vertentes, Tiradentes, Brazil

A Free Sight, CAIXA Cultural, Rio de Janeiro

A Free Sight, CAIXA Cultural, Brasilia. Brazil

J. P. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in Lithuania. 1965, United Nations Headquarters, New York

A Free Sight, CAIXA Cultural, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Nostalgia for Bare Feet, CAIXA Cultural, Fortaleza, Brazil

2012   

J. P. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in Lithuania. 1965, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris

Nostalgia for Bare Feet, Art festival Artes vertentes, Tiradentes, Brazil

Nostalgia for Bare Feet, Contemporary photography gallery, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

A Free Sight, CAIXA Cultural, Salvador, Brazil

A Free Sight, Museum Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Brazil

Antanas Sutkus. Photography, Fotomuseet Sundsvall, Sweden

J. P. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in Lithuania, Walter Bishoff galerie, Berlin

2007

J.-P. Sartre in Lithuania, Contemporary Art Museum, Minsk

2006

Daily Life Archives, White Space Gallery, London, UK

London Stadtmuseum Münster, Germany

2005

J-P. Sartre and S. de Beauvoir in Lithuania. 1965 for the 100th anniversary of Sartre Centre Culturel Francais, Kiev, Ukraine; Centre Culturel Francais, Stockholm, Sweden; Centre Culturel Francais, Rostock, Germany; Centre Culturel Francais, Greifswald, Germany; Photography gallery 17, Salies de Bearn, France; Artists’ Union Gallery, Riga, Latvia

2004
PHP, Prague, Czech Galerie; Argus fotokunst, Berlin, Germany; Susanne Albrecht gallery, Munich, Germany; Stara Galeria ZPAF, Warsaw, Poland; The 5th Moscow Photography Bienalle, Central House of Artists, Moscow, Russia; CK Zamek, Galeria PF, Poznan, Poland; Galleri Infra, Stockholm, Sweden

2003
Fotografie Forum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Selected Group Exhibitions

2008

Behind Walls, Noorderlicht Photography Festival, Fries Museum, The Netherlands

Street & Studio. An Urban History of Photography, Tate Modern, London

Working Men, Analix Forever gallery, Geneva, Switzerland

2007
Presumed Innocence, (from the collection of Beth and Anthony Terrana) DeCordoba Museum, Lincoln, USA

Antanas Sutkus and Classics of Lithuanian Photography, The State Russian Centre of Photography, St Petersburg, Russia

Photography Festival FotoGrafia (with A. Macijauskas and R. Požerskis), Rome, Italy

2005

Galeri Konstepidemin (with S&P Stanikas), Goteburg Galerie Lichtblick (with A. Macijauskas and A. Valiauga), Cologne, Germany

Galerie Susanne Albrecht (with Martin Parr), Munich, Germany

Positive Akademie der Künste Berlin, Germany

Les Boreales festival, Caen, France

Lithuanian Insight: 1960 to Now, Fotografie Forum international, Kommunale Galerie, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Victoria and Albert Museum, Canon Gallery, London, UK