Agustí Centelles was the moderniser of photojournalism in Catalonia throughout the 1930s, using the technological advances of the era to revolutionise the way his contemporaries took photographs. As he himself said, he was “the first graphic reporter to practise politics through photography.” Centelles covered the events of the Spanish Civil War from its earliest days, travelling round the actual scenes of combat with a Leica camera, which meant he was able to record the key images of a crucial moment in Spain’s history. After a few years in photojournalism, Centelles began work as a graphic war correspondent the day after Civil War broke out, on the 19th of July 1936, working for a number of media and institutions such as the Propaganda Committee of the Catalan Generalitat. From this position, he covered the Republican view of the fighting on the Aragon Front and the bombing of civilians in Lerida, both in 1937. Centelles’ photographs illustrate the unprecedented way the Civil war was covered, anticipating the explosion of documentary coverage during the Second World War. His work shows how he was equally committed to standing with the soldiers at the front as he was to civilians, which meant he created pictures with a palpable immediacy and visual impact in order to achieve photographic objectivity which, in fact, became politicised simply by dint of the content and the photographer’s involvement in every image.
Concha Calvo Salanova