Oriol Maspons Archive
Oriol Maspons (Barcelona, 1928-2013) played a key role in the renewal of the photographic language in Spain in the 1950s and 1960s, first from the field of amateur photography and from 1957 as a professional. Contrary to the conception of photography as an object of aesthetic contemplation, Maspons defended applied or useful photography.
Artistic Photography vs. Useful photography
Started as an amateur, Maspons joined the Photographic Association of Catalonia (AFC) in 1952. And, although he actively participates in the entity and, during his stay in Paris, he manages to organize a sample of some of its members in the French capital, Maspons soon opposes the values and operation of the entity, which collides with its most innovative initiatives. For him, photography had a useful function, as a testimony of the time or applied to the fields of advertising and illustration. Its final destination was the printed page. But the activity of the AFC was then centered on photographic contests or salons, defending an artistic photography indebted to pictorial art, in accordance with the tastes of the conservative bourgeoisie. These aesthetic values are often criticized by Maspons, especially in his article “Salonismo”, published in 1957 in the magazine Arte Fotográfica, and for which he was finally expelled from the group in May 1958.
París and AFAL
He had already moved to Paris in 1955 and there he frequented photographic environments and met Brassaï, Cartier-Bresson and Doisneau, among others. The interviews he conducted with these photographers were published in Arte Fotográfica and allowed Spanish professionals and amateurs to get a glimpse of these foreign authors. For a restless person like Maspons, from Franco’s Spain, the Parisian experience was a breath of freedom in all aspects. Also in those years, their participation in the AFAL group in Almería is essential. The AFAL magazine, published by the Almeriense Photographic Group between 1956 and 1963, was presented as the spokesperson for all those independent photographers and amateur photographic groups, opposed to the academicism of traditional groups. AFAL understood photography as a reflection of “its time”, from respect to the pluralism of approaches and the promotion of the exchange of ideas. Maspons met the magazine in Paris, quickly began to collaborate with it and in 1959 he was appointed as a correspondent. Upon his return to Barcelona in 1957, he decided to professionalize and form a partnership with Julio Ubiña.
Gauche divine, fashion and advertising
Maspons was part of the so-called gauche divine, a heterogeneous group of young intellectuals and artists, models, filmmakers, writers and architects, who at the end of the 1960s rebelled against the official Francoist culture in Barcelona. They were a heterogeneous group, characterized by their provocative and cosmopolitan attitude. A cultural elite that shared a project of aesthetic renovation in various fields, but without assuming a real political or social commitment. In front of his camera, his main protagonists posed and he portrayed their scenarios. He also photographed singers from Nova Cançó for their album covers.
Throughout his long career, Oriol Maspons devoted himself to reporting, portraiture, fashion and advertising. He worked for the main magazines of the time, such as La Gaceta Ilustrada, Destino, Cuadernos de arquitectura, Triunfo, Interviú, L’Oeil, Paris-Match, Bocaccio, Expression, Elle, etc.
The Maspons + Ubiña studio experienced the advertising boom that occurred in the sixties. The Spanish economy was emerging from the autarky that had dominated the postwar years, and the country became an incipient consumer society. The influence of tourism and foreign fashions caused a change in the model of women that appeared in advertising: the home woman gave way to a modern and sensual woman, preferably blonde, with a Nordic air.
Maspons took his first fashion photographs when he returned from Paris. In those years he still did not have a set and preferred to photograph the models on the street, where the elegant dresses stood out against the old peeling walls. Maspons’s view of the models has evolved over time. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, his photographs depicted beautiful and sensual women; from the mid-sixties on, the models were more and more simple mannequins, depersonalized, expressionless dolls in impossible poses on a white background.
Word and Image, and an enormous archive
His friendship with Esther Tusquets made him participate from the beginning in the creation, by the Lumen publishing house, of the Word and Image collection in whose volumes photography and text were treated on an equal footing. The collection was, in the sixties and early seventies, an innovative and risky bet in the cultural context of Franco’s Spain. In it, he published his first book in 1961, The hunting of the red partridge, with texts by Miguel Delibes, which would be followed by Toreo de Salón, with texts by Camilo José Cela, and Poet in New York, with poems by Lorca, both works carried out together with Julio Ubiña. He also illustrated numerous books, among which, due to its careful workmanship, Catalan Gothic Architecture, by Alexandre Cirici, also edited by Lumen in 1968, should be highlighted.
Currently, the Oriol Maspons Photographic Archive is deposited in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. It consists of more than 7,000 photographs on paper, in addition to negatives and different photographic materials, from which the great anthological exhibition “1949-1955. Oriol Maspons. Useful photography ”(this text has been extracted from the dossier of that exhibition). In addition to the MNAC, the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, the Museu del Disseny in Barcelona, the MOMA in New York, and the Biblioteque Nationale de France, have works by Maspons among their collections, as well as Fotocolectania, the Alcobendas Art Center, the Gala Dalí Foundation, the Filmoteca de Catalunya or the College of Architects of Catalonia.
2021: “Oriol Maspons. Cadaqués” – Festival internacional de fotografía InCadaqués.
2021: “El primer viatge” – Sa Nostra Sala, Eivissa.
2021 – 2020: “Barcelona memòria fotogràfica”. Immersive Exhibition inmersiva – Museu Ideal.
2020 – 2019: “1949 – 1995. Oriol Maspons. La fotografia útil” – MNAC – Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.
2019 – 2018: “Una aproximación a AFAL. Donación Autric – Tamayo” – Museo Reina Sofía en el marco de PhotoEspaña 2018.
2019 – 2018: “Distinción” – Museo Cristóbal Balenciaga.
2016 – 2015: “Distinció. Un segle de fotografia de moda” – Museu del Disseny de Barcelona.
2013: “Nuevas adquisiciones 2009 – 2012” – Centro de Arte Alcobendas.
2009 – 2008: “Oriol Maspons: un fotógrafo insólito” – KOWASA gallery.
1995: “Oriol Maspons. L’instant perdut” – Fundació La Caixa.
1957 – 1956: “Photographs from the Museum Collection” – MOMA.
2020-2021 “Barcelona Memòria Fotogràfica” exposición colectiva digital, Museu Ideal.
2019-2020 Antológica “Oriol Maspons. La fotografía útil. 1949 – 1995”, MNAC.
2018-2019 “Una aproximación a AFAL. Donación Autric-Tamayo”, Museo Reina Sofía, en el marco de PhotoEspaña 2018.
2018-2019 “Distinción”, Museo Cristóbal Balenciaga.
2015-2016 “Distinció. Un segle de fotografia de moda” Museu del Disseny de Barcelona.
2013 “Nuevas adquisiciones 2009 – 2012” Centro de Arte de Alcobendas.
2008-2009 “Oriol Maspons: Un fotógrafo insólito”, KOWASA Gallery.
1995 “Oriol Maspons. L’instant perdut” Fundació La Caixa.
1956-1957 “Photographs from the Museum Collection”, MOMA.