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Matinee: 'Antoni Arissa: The Shadow and the Photographer' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

7 December 2019

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 321st in our series of Saturday matinees today: Antoni Arissa: The Shadow and the Photographer.

In 2014, the Centre de Cultura Contemporánia de Barcelona held an exhibition of Antoni Arissa's work, whom they called "one of the most influent photographers of the Catalan history." This two-minute gives you a peek at what all the fuss was about.

Arissa was born in 1900 and made his living as a printer. In his twenties, he began developing his own photographic style, influenced by the New Vision movement which championed typophoto or the combination of letter forms with photos.

The Institut de Cultura Barcelona describes Arissa's use of the New Vision aesthetic:

Closely related to the ideas of the Bauhaus movement, New Vision conceived photography as an autonomous art form and focussed on the search for both contrasts between light and shadow and original ways of framing subject matter.

His work as a printer, which provided Arissa with a knowledge of typography and editorial development, led to his interest in this artistic movement and the 160 extremely elegant black and white photographs included in the exhibition are fine examples of this interplay between shadows, light, geometry and reflections.

By the time Arissa was in his thirties he had become well known in the Spanish avant-garde movement. But the Spanish Civil War forced him to give up photography and he "disappeared into obscurity" before he was 40. He died in Barcelona in 1980.

The exhibition included over 160 black and white photographs divided into three chronological periods. The first (1922-1928) represented his early work influenced by Pictorialism. The second (1928-early 1930s) incorporates a more contemporary visual approach. And the third (1930-1936) shows Arissa fully engaged in avant-garde photography.

The photographs in the exhibition come from the collections of negatives preserved by the Fundación Telefónica and the Institut d'Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya and incorporates prints made by the photographer.

The CCCB provided a briefer alternate view of the exhibition:

I addition, Rodrigo Teixeira Pinto has shared several of Arissa's images on his Pinterest page.

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