During the interwar years photography develops in Europe as a language of its own, different and independent from traditional arts where possible, both in objectivity and in experimentation. In a period of just two decades artistic photography is perfected (dependant on models of traditional arts) and there is an increase in photojournalism, subordinate to present and immediate feedback. This results in the drift of modern photography towards photojournalism and photographic documentation: Farm Security Administration in the United States, Mass Observation in the United Kingdom, Misiones Pedagógicas (Educational Missions) in Spain, as well as the proliferation of photographic magazines that connect specifically with the mass media, such as Life and Fortune. This exhibition brings together an extensive collection of works, names and media -about a thousand pieces by artists from around the world: photographers, designers, editors, photography editors, poster and publicity artists- over which this era of experimentation is forged as well as the maturity of the technique. Studying it results in the emergence of new issues, in the spirit of the time (technical, city, body, work, abstraction or propaganda) and the appearance of an entire network of spreading and distribution of images and publications due to technical advances in the publishing industry. In these years new ways of communication specific for or dedicated to the publishing of photographs arise: yearbooks, photo-books, newspapers, posters or advertisements, in such a way that modern photography is made public and expands its horizons of consumption, favouring, conversely, mass culture.
Experiments made by photographers and designers in the interwar years, such as: direct photography (Straight Photography) photography without a camera (photograms), the photographic montage, the use of striking perspectives, the contrast in diagonal lines, fragmentation or "photo-type" determine the visual culture of the century, which show influences between photography and other events such as film or literature. Books like Reger-Patzsch: Die Welt ist Schön (The World is Beautiful) (1928), that of Germaine Krull: Métal (1928), or those of Moholy-Nagy, became models of leading photographic styles and grammars of the themes, techniques and framing of the new photography, which creates a new way to approach the changing world and then recognise it.
The main exhibition room is designed as an urban space that presents modern photography in its own environment: it shows the excess of visual information that is being produced at that time and the means being used to do it. The lighting, projections and aural environment underline this appearance (sound collage has been created expressly by the artist Pedro G. Romero). Panels, tables and cabinets show, among other themes: the new vision of the modern city, its inhabitants, the labourer’s body, the history of every nation, nature, the technique and work.
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao (September - November, 1999); Centro Cultural La Rioja, Logroño (February - March, 2000)
Reina Sofia Museum's Publications