There’s currently a temporary exhibit currently featured at the Museu Nacional D’Art De Catalunya, organized by the Museu Nacional in collaboration with Museo Universidad de Navarra called “North Africa. Ortiz Echagüe.”
The exhibit for the first time ever displays the series of pictures photographer José Ortiz Echagüe took on his travels in North Africa between 1909 and 1916. Ortiz Echagüe was one of the key figures of 20th century photography in Spain, and in Barcelona in particular. He was more than just a photographer though – his love for documenting culture also made him into somewhat of a graphic anthropologist. Through his pictures, Ortiz Echagüe documented reality, decontextualized it, and turned it into a unique work of art. Nonetheless, his work offered a personal vision, a reflection on his own social and cultural background.
Born into a military family, Ortiz Echagüe dreamed of a career as a painter growing up. That is, until he discovered photography at the tender age of 12 when his uncle, a military attaché based in Paris, gave him his first photographic camera – a Kodak. Even as a teenager, Ortiz Echagüe won awards for his photographic output. Nevertheless, wishing to honor his father, a military engineer, Ortiz Echagüe joined the Guadalajara Academy of Military Engineers after finishing his schooling. After graduating from the Academy, he was sent to the front lines of the Spanish-Moroccan War in North Africa. It was here that he began his passion for documentary photography which would last him throughout his life. This exhibition documents North Africa during these years of conflict.
Among these pictures we find portraits, pictures of every rural life, and even aerial photographs. The exhibit explores these foundations of Ortiz Echagüe’s work. Having opened yesterday, March 15th it is being displayed until the 21st of July and is a must see for anyone with even a passing interest in photography.