Acquisition of part of the photographer Oriol Maspons (Barcelona, 1928-2013) collection deposited in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona
Project location: SPAIN, Barcelona
Project start date: June 2017 - Project end date: December 2019
Project number: 2017-034
Beneficiary: Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya was established in 1990 from the reunification of the former Museu d’Art de Catalunya, Museu d’Art Modern, Gabinet de Dibuixos i Gravats, Gabinet Numismàtic de Catalunya and Biblioteca dels Museus d’Art, into the Palau Nacional de Montjuïc. The main objectives guiding the Museu throughout its history have been the recovery, preservation, study and dissemination of Catalan heritage. This has led to the formation of collections of Catalonian paintings, sculptures, objects d'art, drawings, prints, posters, coins, valuable paper, medals and photographs, providing a comprehensive account of the art produced in Catalonia between the eleventh century and today. There is an exceptional collection of Romanesque art, in addition to reference works of gothic, renaissance, baroque, neo-classical, romantic, realist, modernist, noucentisme, avant-garde, and until today. Besides being a place of reference for Catalan artistic production, the Museum is a distinguished centre for bibliographic and historic documentation, as well a sanctuary for the restoration and preventive conservation of artworks.
In 1996, after a long period reclaiming Catalonia's photographic past, the Department of Photography at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya was created. Today it brings together a collection of over 60,000 works ranging from the early days of photography, in 1839, until today. There are mostly original works, that is, vintage copies.
The collection mainly reflects the history of Catalan and Spanish photography. Based on creations by authors who were either born or active in Catalonia, a route that runs along the main artistic movements is outlined: pictorialism, historical vanguards, documentary photography, realism, new vanguard, neorealism, photojournalism or creation photography. Alongside this, there is also a remarkable representation of peninsular and international authors.
The Museu's photograph collection was formed from donations from artists or their heirs (among others, Carles Fontseré, Joaquim Pla Janini, Colita, Toni Catany, Pere Formiguera, Rafael Tous, Emili Bosch), deposited collections (Otho Lloyd, Josep Massana, Antoni Arissa, Generalitat de Cataluña Art Collections, Agrupació Fotogràfica de Catalunya, Oriol Maspons, etc.) and acquisitions.
The project funded by the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, is the acquisition of 200 photographs by Oriol Maspons. Its goal is to bring closer the completion of the 20th century photography collection of the museum, while giving a major retrospective of Oriol Maspons, and making the artist’s production available to both specialist and general public.
This acquisition allows the museum to continue the task of cataloguing, preserving, disseminating and properly conserving the artist’s works, and ensuring its survival over time. It will also enourmously facilitate access to Oriol Maspons' works online. Currently, the Museu's website (www.museunacional.cat) offers access to a remarkable repertoire of its photographic collection, that will be gradually expanded.
Oriol Maspons (Barcelona, 1928-2013) was one of the great Catalan photographers of the twentieth century. His work at an insurance company took him, in the mid-50s, to Paris, where he came into contact with members of the 30 x 40 Club such as Roger Doloy, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Daniel Masclet, André Thevenet and Robert Doisneau, and discovered his vocation.
Convinced that the history of photography must reveal the spirit of time and its cameramen, he began to emerge as one of the leading exponents of the new vanguard; because this trend was sensitive to international movements the Catalan photographic discourse of the 50s and 60s needed to be renewed.
The 200 photographs come from his workshop, and are largely study copies that are neither signed nor dated.
Among the selected works there are snapshots taken in Paris during Maspons' stay between 1955 and 1957, which are the oldest examples of his photographic activity.
A series of photographs taken for the following books published under Lumen Barcelona, are from a few years later: Toreo de salón (Bullfighting en the living-room) (in collaboration with Julio Ubiña, 1963) La caza de la perdiz roja (Hunting the red partridge) (1963), Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York) (in collaboration with Ubiña, 1966), Arquitectura gótica catalana (Catalan Gothic Architecture) (1968), as well as Caminando por Las Hurdes (Walking in Las Hurdes) (Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1960) and Personajes de compañía (Companion characters) (Barcelona, Àmbit, 1995). There are works that show the author's documentary facet, such as the reports dedicated to gypsies in Somorrostro, Gaudi's architecture, the floods in Vallès or the earthquake in Managua.
Maspons also reflected the phenomenon of the New Catalan song, the hippie lifestyle in Ibiza and nights at the Bocaccio [sic] nightclub.
The selection is completed with Christmas cards made with Julio Ubiña, a set of self-portraits and portraits, advertising photography samples and copies of album and book covers, among other genres.
A monographic exhibition of Oriol Maspons is planned to take place in the museum during 2019.
The project Schedule is planned as follows:
- 2017: selection and acquisition of part of Oriol Maspons' photographic archive deposited in the Museu Nacional
- 2017-18: works of documentation and preparation of the retrospective exhibition and of the monographic publication.
- 2019: exhibition and publication of the monography.
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya will share the expected results of this acquisition by the Nando and Elsa peretti Foundation in various ways:
- By uploading the photographs onto its website (www.museunacional.cat).
- Through other media used by the Museu: social networks, newsletter, Press Office (broadcasts, radio, television and digital media).
The Project is due to be completed by December 2019, and it will be carried out in Catalonia, Barcelona, with the possibility of extending it to the Spanish scope.