Fundació MAPFRE presented today, June 6, the exhibitions Tina Modotti i Jules Ainaud’s Catalonia (1871-1872)which can be visited until September 3, at the KBr photography center, located at Avinguda Litoral, 30, in Barcelona.
Tina Modotti’s life was marked by some of the most important historical events of the 1920s and 1930s. The nomadic life and her turbulent political militancy caused Modotti to suddenly leave many of the countries she lived in, which, as she points out the curator of the exhibition Isabel Tejeda, “decontextualizes and disorganizes his production, making it impossible to accurately date many of his images”, although it can be stated that almost all of his photographic work was produced between 1923 and 1930.
During these Mexican years and after her apprenticeship with Weston, the artist evolved from the perfection of formalism to a different and personal perspective conditioned by her way of seeing life, as an emigrant, a woman and a political activist, in what highlights his attraction to the human artist and social injustices.
He portrayed the precarious conditions of the workers, the inequalities and the misery of the urban areas. It also focused on women and their role within the community, as well as the forms and symbols of working class emancipation. In his eagerness to raise awareness, Modotti created images that denounce injustices and honor the dispossessed, some with a propagandistic purpose that are destined to be printed in publications and magazines.
The exhibition presented by the MAPFRE Foundation is made up of around 240 photographs, mostly vintage copies, which are grouped into four sections: Early years: from Údine to Los Angeles, Mexico on the other side of the camera, Photography and Political commitment and the move to political action: Spain at war.
In addition to emphasizing the relationship with Spain, the exhibition reconstructs the figure of Modotti, both as an artist/photographer and as a revolutionary/anti-fascist activist. In addition, an extensive amount of documentary material is presented and one of the films Modotti starred in in Hollywood. The tour is completed with works by photographers from his immediate surroundings, such as Edward Weston.
Jules Ainaud’s Catalonia (1871-1872)
This exhibition, which continues the line of exhibition programming started by the MAPFRE Foundation with the desire to deepen the knowledge of photographic archives and funds, presents the photographic work that Jules Ainaud made during the trip through Catalonia between 1871 and 1872. The exhibition thus restores his legitimate authorship and makes known the work of this photographer.
It has been more than one hundred and fifty years since the set of photographs that Jules Ainaud took in Catalonia on behalf of the Laurent house, could be seen, for the first and only time so far, at the Ateneo Barcelonès. Like the photographs of the Levant area marketed by this firm, this interesting set of images was for a long time considered the work of Jean Laurent himself. “today (…) with the documentary evidence on the table, it can be affirmed that Jules Ainaud was the effective author of those shots taken in this area that the J. Laurent house marketed in the catalogs of 1872 and 1879” he points out the curator of the exhibition, Jep Martí Baiget.
The J. Laurent firm for which Ainaud worked was founded in Madrid in 1856 by the Frenchman Jean Laurent, and represents the main example in Spain of the emergence and development, since the mid-19th century, of companies destined to satisfy the increasingly intense demand for photographic images, private portraits but also reproductions of works of art, landscapes and views of cities and monuments.
The exhibition presents one hundred vintage copies on albumen paper from wet collodion glass negatives. In addition, it gathers fourteen stereoscopic views and thirteen reproductions of the negatives on glass plates of these views that allow one to appreciate the richness of details of the image compared to the works on paper. All these photographs were included in the catalogs that Laurent’s company used to market him between 1872 and 1879. The tour is completed with an oil portrait of Ainaud, the only one that survives, documentation and four letters which talk about the author’s trip to Catalonia in 1871 and 1872.
PARALLEL ACTIVITIES TO THE EXHIBITIONS
- June 7 at 7:00 p.m. Jules Ainaud, “a photographer who admires beauty”, Jep Martí Baiget. Face-to-face and online. More information: https://kbr.fundacionmapfre.org/media/2023/05/KBr_Invitad@s_JA_cast.pdf
- June 13 at 7:00 p.m. Tina Modotti, by Isabel Tejeda. Face-to-face and online. More information: https://kbr.fundacionmapfre.org/media/2023/06/kbr-invitados-tina-modotti-ca.pdf
June 16 at 7:00 p.m. The Tiger’s Coat, Catherine Vincent. A proposal for live music and cinema around the Tina Modotti exhibition. The Tiger’s Coat (1920) is a silent film by American director Roy Clements, in which Modotti plays the lead role alongside Lawson Butt. The French duo Catherine Vincent will put live music to this film which, under their intervention, takes on a musical comedy tinge.
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