Photographic societies began to flourish in Spain around 1900. Between 1839, when the first daguerreotype in Spain was developed in Barcelona by Ramon Alabern, and the second half of the nineteenth century, when photography came to be used for a wide range of applications, photography developed along similar lines in Spain as in the rest of Europe. At one level, photography was used for administrative, technical and scientific purposes. At the same time, it began from a very early date to follow divergent paths and take on some of the character of an art form. What was called "pictorialism" aimed to raise photography to the same level of prestige as painting, and to win for it the respect normally given to unique works of art, an undertaking which was constantly threatened by the enormous popularity of the craft and the growing number of amateur practitioners. The pictorialists approached every plate and every shot with a series of elaborate procedures intended to make the finished product resemble an engraving or a watercolour. The best-known pictorialists in Spain are Miguel Goicochea de Jorge (1894–1983) of Navarre and José Oriz-Echagüe (1886–1980), who worked in Madrid.
   A somewhat less sophisticated offshoot of pictorialist approaches was costumbrista ("costumbres" meaning popular customs, traditions or mores) photography, which concentrated on the observation of the picturesque. The extensive production of Joan Pereferrer (1889–1974) of Girona is a good example of this trend. A completely different approach, originating in advertising and in the work of avant-garde figures like Moholy-Nagy, is denoted by the term Nueva Objetividad (New Objectivity). This movement proclaimed the independence of photography from other arts, and aimed to highlight the "objective" beauty of what was depicted, using only the "logical" power of the camera. Emili Vila (1887–1967) and Josep Masana (1894–1979), who worked in Barcelona, are the first significant representatives of this trend, which would be followed by a large number of distinguished photographers. The influence of the avant-garde is very obvious in the work of Nicolas Lekuona (1913–37), a great Basque creative artist who died at the age of 24 in the Civil War.
   Photo-journalism also became increasingly important, one of the earliest exponents being the Barcelona photographer Agustí Centelles (1909– 85), who was active on the Republican front throughout the Civil War. The Civil War and the Franco regime created a long hiatus in the development of avant-garde experimentation, and many photographers from the Republican side had to go into exile. The work of Jalon Angel (1898–1976), the official photographer of Franco and his entourage, fostered a style firmly anchored in classical composition, with elements of "glamour" derived from the cinema. Until the 1970s censorship and isolation from the international community determined the course of Spanish photography, as well as the other arts. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of great photographers in this period, and their work was affected by the major developments taking place in photography worldwide. Thus the work of Francesc Català-Roca and Gabriel Cuallado shows the influence of the Italian neo-realism of the 1940s and 1950s. The 1970s saw a great change, with the genuine opening-up of Spain to the outside world and the progressive disappearance of censorship. The journal Nueva Lente (New Lens) and the work of Jorge Rueda (born Almería, 1943), mark the appearance of a more radical vision. The new generation of photographers, despite their different approaches, shared a rejection of "photogenic" reality. Notable among them are Cristina García Rodero (born Ciudad Real, 1949), Juan Urrios (born Barcelona, 1962), Carles Fargas (born Tarragona, 1961) and Rafael Vargas.
   See also: visual arts

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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