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Barcelona. The Metropolis in the Age of Photography, 1860-2004

Camera obscura

By Mackenzie Brecker 17.06.16

Barcelona. The Metropolis in the Age of Photography the exhibition currently on show at La Virreina Centre de la Imatge has been extended to September 25th this year. The exhibition examines Barcelona’s history beginning from 1860 with the Cerdà Plan and ending with the Universal Forum of Culture that took place in 2004. This look at history through the use of photography also highlights the changes and advances made in photography. The exhibition is divided into six historical periods, the photographs also illustrate how the medium was exploited by the various political regimes to construct and reflect different versions of the city. An overview that not only shows how Barcelona has changed but also has remained the same.

1860 till 1888; The Cerdà Plan, a plan to expand the city of Barcelona, the 1888 World Fair, and features many photographs of the city’s monuments. During this time, photography had not yet been industrialised, so the photographs shown went through the ‘collodion wet plate’ process and were finished with albumen prints.

  • La Virreina Centre de la Imatge

    Carlos Pérez de Rozas, Pius XII Altar, 1952. Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona

  • La Virreina Centre de la Imatge

    Unknown - Construction of the Columbus monument, c. 1888. Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona

    1888 till 1929; The urbanisation of Barcelona through photographs of Via Laietana, Modermisme architecture, and Montjuïc. Photography had been industrialised by this time, as is shown with the emergence of magazines, photography books, and similar artefacts.

  • La Virreina Centre de la Imatge

    Sebastià Jordi Vidal - Photographic Album of the Barcelona Exhibition, 1929-1930. Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona

    1930 till 1939; This section considers some of the emotive images dating from the Spanish Civil War. Multiple images show the hardships that were faced by the local population during that period and the devastation that was caused.

  • La Virreina Centre de la Imatge

    Joan Guerrero - Santa Coloma, 1970. Col·lecció de l’artista.

    1940 till 1970; Covers the dictatorship that cut Spain off from the rest of the world. Economic development in Barcelona was slowed down which ultimately helped conserve Barcelona’s historic architecture. During the 1960s and 70s photography entered its “golden age” with a multitude of photography books.

  • La Virreina Centre de la Imatge

    Manel Esclusa – Barcelona, imagined city, 1988. Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona.

    1970 till 1992; Barcelona recovers after the dictatorship. Multiple projects were taking place to transform the city in preparation for the 1992 Olympic Games, which proved to be a turning point for the city.

    1992 till 2004; The documentary images that record social movements that were taking place in Barcelona due to the transition from the social-democratic model of urban development to a more neo-liberal model.