The exhibition Cuatro direcciones. Fotografía contemporánea española. 1970-1990 contains a dual purpose. For one, it provides an overview of the names that have made up the history and practice of Spanish photography over the last twenty years, and secondly, it takes the first step towards creating a documented base which will be useful in the future for expanding its study and knowledge. The curator of the exhibition, Manuel Santos, has had the support of an international committee of experts in the selection of the photographers. Four areas or lines of work have been established for the presentation, they address the conceptual and stylistic differences of the fifty artists that are participating in the exhibition. These are: 1) "Reflection and concept", which shows the use of conceptual ideas and imagery of surrealist heritage, 2) "Dream and suggestion", where the authors develop concepts of insight and emotion, 3) "Documentary tradition" which comes from the natural order of life, focusing on social, cultural and political aspects and which sometimes refers to photojournalism and documentary photography, 4) "Means processes", in which the artists explore and push photographic means and materials to their limits, allowing them to develop a new image language.
This review of Spanish photography over the last twenty years assumes a social and political specificity of Spain in general and the photographic environment in particular, which remained isolated from the international community in the Seventies. Despite the lack of national infrastructure for the development of photography, the upgrading and modernisation of photographic practice takes off… mainly thanks to the impetus of private and self-managed initiatives, like the Nueva Lente magazine, founded in 1971. In that way, facing almost non-existent government support, the two axes on which the Spanish photographic reality rests in the Seventies is self-promotion from artists, nationally and internationally, and the appearance of spaces, galleries (Spectrum, which opened in 1973 in Barcelona, was a pioneer in this respect), schools and associations that encouraged the diffusion, both theoretical and practical, of authors and works through courses and seminars. For many of these proposals, the models from which they stem were Rencontres Internacionales de la Photographie de Arles and the Mois de la Photo de Paris.
In the late seventies photography finally became a university subject in the faculties of Fine Arts in Barcelona and Madrid, this and the progressive development and venturing into a network of creation, promotion, dissemination and discussion on international photography influenced a more theoretical and critical training of the authors and a greater awareness of the artistic category of photography by institutions and the markets.
Escuela de Artes y Oficios, Almería; Centro Sa Nostra, Palma de Mallorca; Sainte Anne's Church, Montpellier; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark; Centro Cultural Pallarés, León; Sala de Exposiciones de la Universidad, Santander; Palacio Almudí, Murcia; Museo Municipal, Orense; Cultural Rioja, Logroño; Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao; Palacio Gabia, Granada; Bancaixa, Valencia; Salas del Ayuntamiento de Pollensa, Mallorca; Museo José Luis Cuevas, Mexico City; Salas de la Biblioteca de Castilla y León, Valladolid; Salas de Exposiciones de Caja España de Palencia; Photographer's Gallery, London