Since the beginning of the Nineties the Centro de Documentación (Documentation Centre) and Biblioteca (Library) of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía has been carrying out a series of documentary-style exhibitions inside a small exhibition space.
The exhibition of the work of Juan Dolcet (Madrid, 1914-1990), one of the preeminent photographers from the Escuela de Madrid, is in line with these practices. Dolcet forms the group with Gerardo Vielba, Fernando Gordillo, Paco Gómez and Gabriel Cualladó as his sphere of artistic activity is found somewhere between portrait and social reportage.
Owing to the education given to him by his father, a professional photoengraver, Dolcet becomes interested in self-taught art from an early age and in the Fifties he decides to work professionally in photography and joins the Royal Photographic Society in Madrid along with other national organisations. In 1955 he wins his first Negtor Award in photography.
During and after this period he attends gatherings and discussion groups where he comes into contact and builds friendships with artists from diverse art movements, for instance Rafael Canogar, Manuel Millares, Antonio Saura, Antonio López, etc. At the same time he works for art and photography galleries and artists workshops, issuing catalogues and other publications.
For the exhibition Juan Dolcet: Retratos de artistas (Juan Dolcet: Artist Portraits) over eighty photographs come together to make up a selection of portrait work by the artist, images that also work as documents as they depict the artists in many instances within their working environment or with some of their works.
Therefore, Dolcet employs four approaches as he photographs his subjects: the face or three quarters of the figure (Juan Barjola, Eduardo Sanz, José Miguel Pardo, Francisco Bores, Antonio López, Julio López Hernández and Daniel Vázquez Díaz); the artist in the studio or contemplating their works (Miguel Galanda, Pablo Palazuelo, Francisco Farreras, Antonio Saura, Luis Gordillo); in the artists' proximate or intimate places (Vicente Viudes, José Caballero, Martín Chirino, Gerardo Rueda); and in fictional poses or scenes that, similarly, reveal the character of the person photographed (Elías Benavides, Lita Mora, José Paredes Jardiel, Fernando Mignoni, Juan Genovés and Pablo Serrano).
In every image, Dolcet's intention is to photograph each artist's personality while portraying his methods of creation and his way of understanding art. The friendship that connects him to many of them brings about intimacy and a unique vision of each one, although the interplay between framing and poses also demonstrates Dolcet's vivid imagination and originality.
Thus, as one of the exhibition's curators, Miguel Logroño (together with Catherine Coleman) points out, the collection of documents displayed enables him to “relate an authentic chronicle of Spanish art in the second half of the twentieth century.”