Hungarian-born Kondor had embedded access, wearing a uniform and carrying a gun. His images show the impact of the war on the young American soldiers and rarely seen photographs of the Vietnamese people caught up in the conflict. The images are compassionate and piercing.

Team Arkansas before insertion

Kondor was in the field for extended periods, so he did not have to work under the daily pressure of breaking news, as did the in-and-out photographers of such news agencies as Associated Press and Reuters. This led to the creation of stories that unfold slowly, painfully or humorously.

This exhibition was created in Chicago in 1995, 20 years after the fall of Saigon, with Kondor selecting and printing three master-sets of black and white silver-gelatin photographs. "It was an act of healing, watching the full-frame prints emerge in my darkroom," he said. "I experienced a wave of visual and emotional excitement, which from the safe perspective of time was slowly becoming understandable."

The American public reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and in 1996 a master-set was acquired for the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago.

Kondor’s work is a document of the events that shook a superpower and continue to resonate in America and Vietnam today. "Vietnam 50 Years Later" encompasses over 50 vintage prints and the original newspaper publications tear-sheets, a brief film of the collection narrated by the artist, media coverage of the original Chicago exhibition, and a selection of original artist proof sheets.

Writing home

"Laszlo Kondor’s self-developed fine art prints are very important to the Hungarian Museum of Photography," said Balázs Zoltán Tóth, the curator of the museum. "Kondor’s works, especially the ones which were made as a trained infantry-combat photographer in Vietnam, are the true realisation of the famous quote of [Hungarian photographer] Robert Capa: "If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough."

A refugee from the 1956 hungarian uprising, Kondor ultimately made his way to Chicago in 1961. Educated as a political scientist at the University of Chicago, he turned to photo-journalism in the mid-1960s. He was a witness to a time of great civil unrest in America and the biggest photographic opportunity of the decade, the vietnam war. Returning after the war in 1972, Kondor became the official photographer to the pre-eminent Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley and opened his own fine art studio in 1978. He returned to hungary in 1996 and currently lives in Kapolcs with his american wife.

"Vietnam 50 Years Later, a Combat Photographer Remembers"
Hungarian Museum of Photography
Katona József tér 12, Kecskemét
Until 29 September
Open: Tues-Sat 12:00-17:00
Phone: (+36) 76 483-221
Mobile: (+36) 20 263-2632

Photographs courtesy of Laszlo Kondor (all rights reserved)

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