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Virtual Exhibition


Saudades de Sâo Paolo
Start 23/03/2020
Exhibition held from february 1 from may 3, 2020.

This exhibition is a homage to the photographic work of Palmira Puig and Marcel Giró, while also being a tribute to the life of an extraordinary couple.

 

The military conflicts which ravaged Europe during the twentieth century meant that many artists, from different disciplines such as photography, fled to exile in countries in Latin America. This is the case of Marcel Giró (Badalona, 1913–Mira-sol, 2011) and Palmira Puig-Giró (Tàrrega, 1912–Barcelona, 1978) who lived in exile in Brazil until 1978. They were both active in the avant-garde of Brazilian photography.

In the first phase of the research of the Giró Archive, only the photographs by Marcel Giró were...


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EXHIBITION PAINTINGS: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Palmira Puig. Sense títol (Marcel Giró)
1950
Photography
Vintage photography. Silver gelatin on paper.

Toni Ricart, Marcel Giró and Palmira Puig’s nephew, to whom we owe the existence of their collection, told me a story told to him by his uncle. If I may take the liberty, I would like to abridge and apply a certain poetic licence to its retelling. The maestro gave three points of guidance to his pupil. The first: to close your eyes in the dark. In theory, he was talking about the photographic dark room or, better still, he was referring to complete awareness and body memory, vital factors in photographic creation. The second: to keep the line of the horizon away from the centre of the photograph. The third: to hold your breath at both high and low speeds. Symbolically, this triad sums up a photographer's creative process.
Palmira Puig. Sense títol (Palmira Puig i Marcel Giró)
1950
Photography
Vintage photography. Silver gelatin on paper.

Marcel Giró came from a family with interests in the Catalan textile sector. After studying at the Terrassa School of Industry, he enlisted as a volunteer for the Pyrenean Regiment, dependent on the Generalitat de Catalunya. However, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, in 1937, he went into exile crossing the Pyrenees from Berga to France on foot. In 1940, he managed to travel to Colombia where, together with two partners, he set up a small textile business. In 1942 Palmira Puig and Marcel Giró were married by proxy and met up in Colombia before settling down in São Paulo in 1948.
Marcel Giró. Sense títol (Palmira Puig)
1950
Photography
Vintage photography. Silver gelatin on paper.

Palmira Puig was born in Tàrrega in 1912, into an educated family with intellectual depth, allowing her to have a good education from an early age and live in culturally enriching surroundings. Added to this was the political engagement of her father, a Member of the National Parliament. She studied Business and during the civil war collaborated actively with the Generalitat de Catalunya. At the end of the war, the family house in Tàrrega was requisitioned and the contents of her father's library were thrown out of the window. Palmira settled with part of her family in Barcelona, where she remained until 1942 when she set out to join Marcel in Colombia.
Palmira Puig. Sense títol (Marcel Giró)
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

Marcel Giró. Sense títol
1950
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

Palmira Puig. Vendedora de flores
1950
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

Palmira Puig's work was also based on experimentation and her audacity of treatment can be seen in her black and white photographs. The larger part of her output is characterised by the poetry and elegance of her still lifes, landscapes and portraits. The importance she gave to the human figure and its surroundings were part of the new figuration that emerged at the end of the 1950s in the Paulista School. Her pictures, taken with great discretion, bring us closer to the everyday life of the markets and the people in them. She fixed her lens on children, flower sellers and elderly people who rarely look at the camera. These are not just portraits of a person, but products of her will. They show a great formal interest in portraying her surroundings and an enormous tenderness in the observation of her subjects’ gestures and work.
Palmira Puig. Sense títol
1950
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

Both Giró and Puig displayed an interest in so-called "humanist photography" that was uncommon among the rest of the members of the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante. They were practically the only ones photographing the favelas and their inhabitants, children and the elderly. They did not just want to express the conditions in which people lived. They show us, with great dignity, their gazes, their beauty and elegance, the capacity for resistance that people transmit; their ability to live happy lives. This is where the political purpose of their photographs lies.
Palmira Puig. Sense títol
1950
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

Palmira Puig. Comportas
1950
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

Palmira Puig. Estudo
1950
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

Palmira Puig. Enchente
1950
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

Marcel Giró. Sense títol
1930
Photography
Vintage photography. Silver gelatin on paper.

Giró's early photographs date from the 1930s, before the civil war, and many of them were taken in the Catalan Pyrenees. Most of them are landscapes and details of mountains and lakes. Many of them, such as the series of prows of pleasure craft, already show a tendency towards abstraction, an aspect present in all his later work.
Marcel Giró. Sense títol
1950
Photography
Reprint photography. Pigment inks on HP Matte-Litho-realistic paper.

Palmira Puig, in addition to her own work as a photographer, was an essential inspiration to all of Marcel Giró's work. Her artistic output inspired many of his most famous portraits. In his most experimental photographs, the presence of her figure provides a reference for the scale of the object photographed. Palmira and Marcel opened their own studio in São Paulo in 1953. Estúdio Giró would become one of the leading advertising photography studios in Brazil, remaining active until 1978 when they decided to return to Spain. Palmira Puig's involvement in the advertising work at Estúdio Giró meant that her criteria were always followed for the final approval of the work.
Marcel Giró. Sense títol
1950
Photography
Reprint photography. Pigment inks on HP Matte-Litho-realistic paper.

His work never entirely freed itself from a desire to document, forged in his experiences of the interwar period. Even when absorbed in the forms, geometry and other modernist experiments of the Paulista School - as the movement that emerged from the Foto Cine Club Bandeirante was called - his photographs show the concern of his generation of photographers for documenting the transformation of cities, industrialisation, modernity, as did Paulo Pires, José Yalenti, Ademar Manarini, Eduardo Salvatore, Gaspar Gasparian and other members of the FCCB.
Marcel Giró. Sense títol
1950
Photography
Reprint photography. Pigment inks on HP Matte-Litho-realistic paper.

Marcel Giró made the expanding metropolis the main focus of his pictures. He possessed a significant formal unity. Even in the sharpest shadows, the iciest geometry, in the most abrupt contrasts, there was a delicacy that went beyond his photographs. This watchful gaze allowed him to create singular works out of the banal and commonplace, such as the tables - or what seem to be tables – that comprise what could be a representation of a storyboard for a dance choreography.
Marcel Giró. Esboço
1950
Photography
Reprint photography. Pigment inks on HP Matte-Litho-realistic paper.

The Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante, founded in 1939, was a movement and group of great international importance, which began to question pictorialism and integrate modernist aesthetics into Brazilian photography. Its members included Thomaz Farkas, Eduardo Salvatore, Geraldo de Barros, Rubens Teixeira Scavone, German Lorca, José Oiticica Filho, and Gaspar Gasparian, among others. The year 1950 marks the moment at which the photographers connected with Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante begin to break with the isolation that photography had suffered until then and to claim it as an autonomous form of artistic expression, exploring and researching new framings, geometries and interplays of light and shadow. The Paulista School came into being at this time. It was a term coined by critics in the specialized journals of the day to describe the modern photographs of the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante. Marcel Giró became one of its most outstanding proponents and in 1956 Palmira Puig was also admitted to the photographic group.
Marcel Giró. Sense títol
1950
Photography
Reprint photography. Pigment inks on HP Matte-Litho-realistic paper.

Marcel Giró experimenta con una visión fotográfica en la que persigue evidenciar las ambigüedades entre figuración y abstracción. Sus fotografías son en muchos casos composiciones con voluntad de construir una forma. En ellas, quiere confundir la percepción de quien las observa, ya sea por el juego en la escala de los objetos, o bien por el énfasis en remarcar efectos gráficos en el objeto fotografiado. Son imágenes y referentes de algo con una unidad formal sorprendente, utilizando desde las sombras más duras a la geometría más fría, pero siempre con una gran poesía que impregna todas sus fotografías. Para Giró, que considera la fotografía como “Arte”, es fundamental la búsqueda de nuevos lenguajes. Con este objetivo persigue una nueva estética: se sirve de un lenguaje formal con una sintaxis propia, altera las perspectivas, contrasta las luces y las sombras hasta el límite y, aproximando tanto las líneas y las texturas, acaba en ocasiones por convertir sus fotografías en “pinturas”.
Marcel Giró. Sense títol
1960
Photography
Vintage photography. Silver gelatin on paper.

Marcel was also a pioneer of advertising photography, working out of his Estudio Giró with young apprentices who were later to become great photographers in their own right, such as Marcio Scavone or the Catalan JR Duran. Here the role of Palmira should not be understated; it was she who oversaw the studio’s entire production process. She would work with the advertising agency art directors, watching over the details of the interior design and styling of the models, and always gave her opinion on the final photographs. In this sense, Palmira provided a stable point of balance to Marcel’s creativity. She was both his muse and his most demanding critic. It is significant that after the death of Palmira in 1978, Marcel, deeply affected, gave up advertising photography for good, and it could be said that he closed this chapter of his career as an artistic photographer. He practically abandoned black and white photography and mainly concentrated on taking travel photographs.
Palmira Puig i Marcel Giró. Fulla de contacte
1950
Photography
Photography reprinting. Printed with 12 pigmented inks on Baryta paper.

It has been difficult to identify Palmira’s unsigned work, since she and Marcel often shared a camera, and we have found reels of film with photographs taken by both of them. Even when they did not share a camera, they would photograph the same thing while standing next to each other, as we have seen with other members of the Paulista School. It was common for FCCB photographers to go out together at the weekend to take pictures as a group. As JR Duran recalls, "She would accompany him from time to time on his weekend jaunts in search of pure photography, for his photo essays, away from the studio and advertising work. These urban expeditions were real photography lessons and I will never forget what I learned on them; composition, elegance, framing."
Marcel Giró. Sense titol (Autoretrat de Palmira Puig i Marcel Giró)
1951
Photography
Vintage photography. Silver gelatin on paper.

Giró and Puig returned to Catalonia in 1978, to witness the birth of a new democracy. A few months later, Palmira Puig died of a cancer that had been dogging the last years of her life. It would take Marcel many years to recover from the loss. From that moment on, Marcel Giró abandoned practically all contact with photography and in his later years he devoted himself to travelling. During his stays in Catalonia, he made, in painting, copies of his photographs. Some of the photographs in this exhibition have recently been incorporated into well-known international collections, such as those of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA, New York), the MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo), Itaú Cultural (São Paulo), MNAC (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona), as well as notable international private collections.




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