• The Garry Winogrand exhibition brings together the New York photographer’s most iconic works, portraying North America from the 1950s through to the early 1980s.
  • Nicholas Nixon. The Brown Sisters features a world first: all forty-five photographs in the series to date, including the most recent one taken in the autumn of 2020.
  • Until 5 September at the KBr Fundación MAPFRE center.

Fundación MAPFRE today (June 9) presents in Barcelona two new exhibitions that can be visited from through to September 5 at its KBr photography center at number 30, Avenida del Litoral.

GARRY WINOGRAND

The famed American street photographer Garry Winogrand (New York, 1928-1984) has been recognized along with Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander as one of the essential figures in the renaissance of documentary photography.

In his early days, Winogrand worked for popular magazines such as Life, Look and Sports Illustrated, but he soon abandoned photo-journalism to devote himself to a new photographic culture linked to the art world. From 1955 he travelled widely across North America, making a record of the society and culture of those times.

Winogrand shot the everyday life of North America and, with his photographs, enshrined politicians, businessmen, women, athletes and famous actors, many of them in the urban heart of New York city.

His photographic style almost compulsively reflects the chaos and vitality of that society. His work showcases a reality that is what it is, with no moral judgements.

For his book The Animals, published in 1969, he also comprehensively photographed scenes at the Bronx zoo and the Coney Island aquarium, both huge New York attractions.

His work also recorded the pacifist and countercultural movements and demonstrations of the 1970s associated with the Vietnam War, reflecting a sense of national disintegration.

The exhibition, which includes a compilation of the artist’s best-known black and white photographs, is enriched with new contributions and offers little-known aspects of his career. In the early 1950s, the photographer began using color slide film and he was quick to realize its artistic potential. These works, shown for the first time in Spain in a selection of 152 slides, round off the exhibition’s chronological journey.

The Center for Creative Photography in Tucson (Arizona), the custodian of his legacy, currently holds more than 45,000 of his slides.

NICHOLAS NIXON’S THE BROWN SISTERS

Nicholas Nixon (Detroit, Michigan, 1947) holds a preeminent position in the history of photography over the last few decades. His work has been exhibited in some of the world’s leading institutions, such as the Art Institute of Chicago (1985), New York’s MoMA (1988), and the Museum of Modern Art in Paris (1995), among others.

Nixon is one of the photographers who has most profoundly explored social and portrait photography since the 1970s. Time, human fragility, and abandonment are recurring themes in his work.

Humanism and an interest in representing his own relationship with the world is reflected in several of his series, most notably the one dedicated to The Brown Sisters.

In 1974, on the occasion of a family reunion, Nixon took a group portrait of his wife Beverly Brown and her three sisters. Bebe was twenty-five at the time and her sisters, Heather, Laurie and Mimi, were twenty-three, twenty-one and fifteen respectively. The shot did not meet his expectations, so the following year he tried again and got better results, and the photograph became the first in one of the most well-known series in this discipline. Every year since then, Nixon has repeated the experience.

Nixon naturally exploits one of the primary qualities of photography: the nostalgia that comes from its ability to stop time, which makes this discipline an art capable of showing the relentless vulnerability of people and the irremediable progress of life.

Since its inception, the series has adhered to certain formal constants. To take the photographs, Nixon uses an 8 x 10 inch camera (20.3 × 25.4 cm), a format that is unusual today but to which he has remained faithful due to the remarkable quality of the results it produces. As for the composition, the sisters always appear in the same order: the one they occupied by chance the first time they were photographed, facing the front and looking right at the camera. The photographs are usually shot outdoors, taking advantage of the natural light that floods the entire composition.

Almost half a century has passed since the artist began this series, which continues to be one of the most significant works of contemporary photography and, as such, forms part of the collections of renowned international institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, where it is part of the permanent collection; the National Gallery of Art in Washington; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (Texas); the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge (Massachusetts), and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.

The Brown Sisters was acquired by Fundación MAPFRE in 2007, starting its photography collection. Since then, each year, the new photograph in the collection has been added.

Both exhibitions are part of the official section of the PhotoESPAÑA Festival.