Photography played a fundamental role in the construction and propagation of the iconography – and also ideology – of modern architecture. In Spain, drawing attention to architectural photography has been the main mission of the research group FAME, headed by Iñaki Bergera and committed to the painstaking task of digging into archives of every sort, many of them scattered and difficult to access. Part of this endeavor is the exhibition ‘Camera and Model: Photography of Architectural Models in Spain, 1925-1970,’ visitable through 14 May at the ICO Museum in Madrid, with a voluminous catalog to accompany it.
Through a hundred images arranged in a labyrinthine scheme of Borgesian echoes and a stunning collection of period models, the exhibition takes stock of the relationship between two ways of depicting architecture, and, by extension, the fruitful relations that tend to be struck between architects and photographers. The overall focus is on the coming-of-age and crisis years of Spanish modernity, from the period of building the discourse and picture of modernity (the show studies the GATEPAC and its propaganda organ, the magazine AC) to the decade of the organicist revision of functionalism (with special attention to Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oíza and Fernando Higueras), and along the way, the period of formal exaltation of the modern project. Overall, this is an exhibition which, under the guise of research into a modest theme, puts forward a history of modernity in Spain from a different angle, complementary to the usual.