With his images Francesc Catalá-Roca (Valls, 1922 - Barcelona, 1998) has contributed to permanently placing the peculiarities, customs and people from a number of Spanish regions in the memory of the Spanish people. The first of his photography books was published in 1952 and portrayed the works of one of the most emblematic buildings in Spain and one of the biggest creations by the international Antoni Gaudí: the Sagrada Familia.
This book was followed by many others, including: Costa Brava (1958); Mallorca, Menorca e Ibiza (1962); Guía de Castilla la Nueva (1964); El Pirineu (1970); Guía de Cataluña (1971) and Guía de Murcia (1971). At the same time an interest in Catalá-Roca arose due to his art publications which results in books such as: Arte ibérico (1969); Joan Miró i Catalunya (1969); Miró Escultor (1972); Los Espacios de Chillida (1974); Llorens Artigas (1977) and a long list of etceteras. To this is added a remarkable collection of films among which stand out: La Ciudad Condal en otoño (1950), Piedras Vivas (1952) and documentaries on artists including Joan Miró, Eduardo Chillida and Josep Guinovart.
Catalá-Roca was the first photographer to win the Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas in 1982, even before there was any national award specifically dedicated to photography. With this exhibition, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía wishes to remember Catalá-Roca’s contribution to the history of Spanish photography. The exhibition is based on the contents of two of his books, both published in 1954 and dedicated to the cities of Madrid and Barcelona.
Regarding the Catalonian capital, different views of some of its more touristic places are exhibited, such as the Monument to Columbus, el Gran Teatro del Liceo, las Ramblas, Plaza de Cataluña and el Tibidabo. Nostalgic images of a city full of promises that is also a meeting place for personalities such as writers Josep Maria de Sagarra y Juan Eduardo Cirlot, composers Manuel Blancafort y Frederic Mompou or painters Joaquim Sunyer, Olga Sacharoff, Salvador Dalí and the much admired Joan Miró, of whom Catalá-Roca himself is estimated to have taken about five thousand pictures and who is remembered in this exhibition with a fun picture where the artist appears eating the traditional Catalonian dish, calçots (a variety of green onion).
The Spanish capital is also immortalised through its most representative areas such as: calle Alcalá, la Castellana, the viaduct of calle Bailén, the plaza de Oriente, calle del Arenal, the hill de Moyano, el Rastro and of course, the bustling and vibrant Gran Vía. This collection includes a curious photograph of the inside of the clock at Puerta del Sol while a watchmaker works on its mechanism as well as other photographs that reflect everyday life in Madrid embodied in a young delivery boy, a whimbrel bird seller, a black marketeer in the Gran Vía or a stewardess walking out of the metro. They join those already mentioned, portraits of personalities such as Eugenio d'Ors, Leopoldo Panero and César González-Ruano, who complete the extensive black and white vision of a professional photographer committed to his time.
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