“- ¿Qué siente un fotógrafo al hacer estas fotos?
– Cuando se tiene la máquina en la cara no se ve nada, sólo lo que ha de fotografiar. Luego viene la reacción. ¡Qué es brutal!”
(Interview to Agustí Centelles by Félix Pujol. La Vanguardia, 2nd May 1979)
Agustí Centelles (1909- 1982) was a young urban graphic reporter in Barcelona when the Spanish Civil War started. In that moment, he became war correspondant and he achieved to be one of the best fotographers in Spain.
In that exposition, in Paraninfo of Zaragoza University, called “Todo Centelles 1934-1939”, we can see his highest quality pictures. 82 images which in 1976 the author found in a suitcase in a Carcasonne attic. The same suitcase which accompanied him when he left the concentration camp of Bram (France).
The photographs of Centelles are not only beutifull but also shocking, they are Spanish history. On them we can distinguish important people of the period like Manuel Azaña, Lluís Companys or Carles Pi i Sunyer. In addition, Centelles’s photos have been used to identify anonymous stories like the one of Mariano Vitini. Mister Vitini was a guard who shot behind a barricade of dead horses. This photo was famous around the world and in 2011 the family of Vitini knew that he was their relative.
Ana Vitini, granddaughter of Vitini, said to El País when they knew the news:
“Tanto a mi madre como a mi tía les hace mucha ilusión. La fotografía ha dado la vuelta al mundo como un icono de la Guerra Civil, pero nadie sabía que era mi abuelo. La habíamos visto en exposiciones, en libros, en prensa…”. (Natalia Junquera (2011) “El que dispara es Mariano Vitini” El País. Available in: http://elpais.com/diario/2011/07/17/revistaverano/1310853604_850215.html)
Centelles published his photos in international newspapers such as L’Illustration, News-Week, La Tribuna Ilustrata, The New York Times etc. And Spanish newspapers and magazines like: ABC, La Vanguardia, Mi Revista, Ahora etc.
Maybe Agustí Centelles was the first Spanish photo reporter, however the first people who took a photo about a society or political moment in history was probably the German Erich Salomon (1886-1944). After fantastic profesionals arrived for instance Eugene Smith (1918 -1978) or the famous Robert Capa (1913-1954) who lived the Spanish War with Centelles.
Carmelo Tartón Vinuesa spoke about them: “Todos ellos crearon un estilo, una forma de plasmar historias en imágenes llenas de dramatismo, con el objetivo de mostrar un mundo doliente, agresivo e ingrato.” (Tartón Vinuesa, C. (1999) Los fotógrafos aragoneses. Zaragoza: Edelvives).
Our protagonist didn’t want to represent an epic visión of the war with his photos, on the contrary, he wanted us to think over it and we analyse human condition.
With these photos we can have a thrilling and surprising review of the Spanis Civil War. Centelles did an excelent job using his Leica III (1933 model).
By Cristina Lostao
We can enjoy the exposition until 11th January 2014.