Spanish Photobooks at the Reina Sofia
"photobooks. Spain 1905-1977" is a history of Spanish photography through a selection of its best photobooks, many of them little known. The exhibition, organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofi?a and Accio?n Cultural Espan?ola (AC/E), is the result of a line of acquisitions and research undertaken by the Museum’s Department of Collections with the collaboration of Horacio Ferna?ndez, curator of the exhibition.
This exhibition offers a new perspective on Spanish photography during its most important period through the work of photographers like Luis Acosta Moro, Alfonso, Jalo?n A?ngel, Antonio Ca?novas, Robert Capa, Francesc Catala?-Roca, Colita, Joan Colom, Jose? Compte, Salvador Costa, Ramo?n Masats, Xavier Miserachs, Misiones Pedago?gicas, Fernando Nun?o, Francisco Ontan?o?n, Jose? Ortiz Echagu?e, Joaqui?n del Palacio, Enrique Palazuelo and Leopoldo Pome?s.
"photobooks. Spain 1905-1977" shows works published in Spain between 1905 and 1977—in different styles, in limited or mass editions, printed using refined techniques or on inexpensive paper, for all audiences or for minorities. They are about people, things, behaviors, and ideas. photobooks were few and far between at the start of the twentieth century, increased in number during the war, and reached their height of development in the sixties. They subsequently grew scarce, only to make a triumphal comeback in the new century, represented in the Museum’s Library in the show Books that are Photos, Photos that are Books. Together they make up a specialized collection that is unique in its kind and embodies the Museo Reina Sofia’s commitment to all aspects of photographic images.
The works on display, most of which are little known, provide a fresh insight into Spanish photography. photobooks probes the broad and suggestive relationships between photography, publishing, design and literature, popular art and culture, history and politics, and public and private life. In the pages of these works is a plural history of the profound transformation of Spanish society. Thanks to the collective work of photographers, publishers, designers and writers, the themes presented in photobooks include the image of woman, seen from perspectives as different as the submission to patriarchal culture in the works of Ca?novas and Compte and the militant feminism of Colita. Another major topic is the representation of the Spanish Civil War from both sides, with books like Madrid, which deals with the victims of the bombings during the siege of the capital, contrasting with Jalo?n A?ngel’s portraits of soldiers on the side of the uprising. The war is followed by the sadness and harshness of the dictatorship, shown in photobooks by Joaqui?n del Palacio and Alfonso.
The relationship between photography and literature emerges throughout the exhibition, starting with the book by Ca?novas mentioned above. From the period of the Civil War, special attention is merited by the photobooks of Antonio Machado, Miguel Hernandez and Arturo Barea. In the sixties, the Lumen publishing house brought out the Palabra e Imagen (Word and Image) collection, designed by Oscar Tusquets, with extraordinary contributions by writers like Aldecoa, Cela, Delibes, Vargas Llosa and Caballero Bonald, and photographers like Masats, Maspons, Miserachs and Colita. One outstanding work
???in this section is Nuevas escenas matritenses (New Scenes of Madrid), with photos by Enrique Palazuelo.
Urban culture is also present in the photobooks of Alfonso, Catala- Roca, Miserachs and Ontanon. Mention should be made too of the books on the end of the dictatorship by Nuno and the Diorama and Foto FAD teams, which show the gradual disappearance of the old identifying features of Spanish society under the influence of tourism and the global economy.
Apart from displaying some photographs autonomously, the show also features systems that allow visitors to view the plural content of each work exhibited, since it is in the work as a whole, as a coherent sequence of images, that the true entity of the photobook resides.