Category Archives: Collections

Collecting (17) – Zamora

Every year, in the beginning of November, book-sellers from Granada and other parts of Andaluzia gather around Fuente de las Batallas, in the city’s centre. In this used-book fair, you may buy, for two or three euros, some of the most representative works of the most representative authors of the 20th century’s Spanish literature, like Lorca, Cela, Delibes, Marsé or Blasco Ibañez. Amongst these books, you may also find photo-related items, such as postcards, old prints and photo-books. Some of the most interesting objects are the old books published by government agencies, or at the expenses of those agencies, with the aim of promoting regions and historical monuments of Spain. For instance, if you’re lucky, you may find a pristine copy of the Avila’s tourist guide, with text by the Nobel prize-winner Camilo José Cela and photos by the famous Spanish photographer Francesc Catalá Roca. Or something like this guide to the city of Zamora, printed and published in 1929, with texts in Spanish, French and English.

Collecting (14) – Renato Roque’s Dreams

I bought this item a long time ago, in 1994 or 1995, at a photo festival that was held every year in the Portuguese town of Coimbra. It is a simple, discrete, and yet beautiful collectible piece by the Portuguese photographer Renato Roque (b.1952), consisting of eight small format postcards, stacked in a thick paper envelope and tied with a white nylon twine. The title, in Portuguese, os sonhos são a preto e branco, translates to something like dreams are in black and white; and, effectively, these images look like (amplified) details of that region where surrealism meets expressionism — Hitchcock’s (and Dali’s!) Spellbound comes immediately to my mind as I browse through the photos.  The envelope and the photos are not numbered and there is no indication of how many sets have been released. An extended version of the work (twenty-five cibachrome 40×50 cm prints from black-and-white negatives) was exhibited at the Imagolucis gallery, in Oporto, and later in France and Vila Nova de Cerveira (Portugal).

Carlos M. Fernandes

Collecting (13) – Diapositives

I was recently in New York and I finally managed to visit the famous Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. There, I found this slide holder full of photos that seem to belong to a single family. These kind of images always have a disturbing effect on me, especially diapositives, maybe because their format keeps the mistery for a longer time, at least until we project them on a screen or digitize them. But then, they are still volatile. A photograph needs a real (not a virtual) support. The role of diapositives in the history of vernacular photography can give us some hints on the possible effects of the massification of digital photography and digital storage. Just think about this: which photos of your family have endured (in your memory),  those from the albums, printed on paper, or those in reversal film? What is more amusing, to browse through a family album, or to watch the slide projection of your friend’s 1978 holydays in Rome?

Collecting (11) – Hungarian Soccer

I found these two photos in Budapest, in an antiquarium shop at Klauzál street.

Collecting (10) – Catalogo Descriptivo de Photographias

Bellos modelos do nu e admiraveis phantasias picantes

This is a funny and bizarre item I found in an antiquarian bookseller in Lisbon: a catalog of erotic (porno?) photographs (photographias galantes), not dated, but probably from the first third of the 20th century. It comes with no images, just descriptions, in naïf, silly and vulgar rhymes, of sets of photographs supposedly depicting typical erotic fantasies and fetishes — a woman and two men, a man and two women, two cousins, and, believe it or not, a man, a woman and a little girl (menina, in Portuguese)! Those photographs could be ordered and sent by mail, and the catalog provides the prices, according to the number of photos, their size and type of paper (albumen, platinum prints, glass negatives, etc.). There is an introduction by the editor proudly presenting the product, which, he states, could not be found until then in Portugal.

Carlos M. Fernandes

Collecting (6) – Barcelona en Color

Barcelona en Color

A guide of Barcelona with text by Jose Battló (in Spanish) and colour photographs by several photographers, such as the renowned Francesc Catalá Roca (1922-1998) and Josip Ciganovic (b.1922), the Serbian entrusted in the 1960s by the Spanish Ministry of Tourism to photograph Spain for a tourist campaign.

Carlos M. Fernandes

Collecting (5) – El Arte en España

El Arte en Espana 1 capa

El Arte en Espana 1 b

El Arte en España nº1: Catedral de Burgos

This is the first in a series of 34 books devoted to the art in Spain, namely in such places like the Alhambra, the Escorial and Seville’s Alcazar. Text in Spanish, French and English by Vicente Lampérez y Romera (1861-1923); 48 illustrations. Thomas Edition. Published in 1920. This one I found in a secondhand bookshop in calle Gracia, in Granada.

The chief monument of the capital of Castile is one of the most remarkable creations of that magnificent Gothic art, which, after so many vicissitudes and digressions, resulted in the thirteenth century in a style which is the synthesis and epitome of Christian mysticism and at the same time one of the most sublime conceptions of the human genius. The Cathedral of Burgos is even more than this, for the artists of every age have expended their enthusiasm and their inspiration upon it, and made it a museum of all the arts.

Vicente Lampérez y Romera

Carlos M. Fernandes