May 28, 2014 – January 5, 2015
Photobooks: Spain 1905-1977
NEUBUCH! 289x231x27 mm
Photobooks: Spain 1905-1997 is a study of the photobooks published in Spain during the twentieth century. The volume deals in detail with thirty photobooks, illustrated with numerous photographs, and offers an overview of some one hundred others in the introductory text. It constitutes a new and surprising chapter in the new history of photography being written in recent years through the rediscovery of the photobook. One of the subjects addressed in Photobooks is propaganda, especially in the photobooks produced on both sides during the Spanish Civil War. Also of special interest are some of the books published in the 1970s, toward the end of the Franco years. Another main focus of the volume is literary works accompanied by series of photographs, of which there are examples from early in the century, though the most important works of this type were published in the 1960s as part of the Palabra e Imagen collection. Finally, several of the photobooks studied here reflect the social transformations that took place in Spain during the twentieth century, including subjects such as traditional trades, metiers, and rituals, the role of women, and the relations between rural and urban Spain. Horacio Fernandez is also the author of Fotografia publica (1999) and The Latin American Photobook (2011).
The Exhibition photobooks. Spain 1905-1977 presents a journey through the history of the photobook in Spain, setting off at the beginning of the 20th century and ending in the mid seventies, via a selection from the Museo Reina Sofía Collection, contextualised and accompanied by an assortment of complementary material.
For a long time the aesthetic consideration of photography has been limited to individual images that are able to work in a similar way to paintings or etchings, a blueprint developed by historians and museum curators alike to assemble a canon of ‘masterpieces’ for studios or exhibitions. Yet this model is not the only one, and many photographers cannot synthesise their work in a single image, devising it instead in a series. Both models give rise to two coherent histories of photography: one comprised of photos to hang on walls, with a limited number of copies and on sale at art galleries; the other in book form, possibly with a reissue, available in bookstores. By and large, photographers prefer the last option: “pictures on walls and photos in books” (Cartier-Bresson).
A photobook is a publication made up of photographs ordered as a set of images, with plots and complex meanings, and the medium used by some of the most pre-eminent photographers to produce their greatest work; a tried-and-tested model to present, communicate and read photos. Photobooks are becoming more widely recognised as the best medium for presenting series of photographs.
The study of photobooks is leading to a reinterpretation of the history of photography in diverse countries, as well as in Spain. Along with well-known photographers (the likes of José Ortiz Echagüe, Alfonso, Francesc Català-Roca, Ramón Masats, Xavier Miserachs, Francisco Ontañón and Colita), the exhibition features a considerable number of practically unknown frontline artists who in their day actually published first-rate photography collections, as is the case with photographers like Antonio Cánovas, the collective work of Misiones Pedagógicas (Teaching Missions), José Compte, Enrique Palazuelo, Luis Acosta Moro and Salvador Costa.
Curated by Horacio Fernández, the exhibition photobooks. Spain 1905-1977 is in collaboration with Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) to present part of the line of investigation and acquisition carried out by the Museo Reina Sofía concerning photobooks. The exhibition, which coincides with the PHE2014 festival, is concluded with the publication of a catalogue raisonné, jointly published by the Museo Reina Sofía, AC/E and RM.