Madrid 2,36 EUR 0 (0,17 %)
Madrid 2,36 EUR 0 (0,17 %)

CORPORATE | 17.08.2023

Photography, the versatile art of our century


Carlos Gollonet

Chief Curator of Photography at Fundación MAPFRE

The culture we live in is spread through photography, and its omnipresence in our daily lives is absolute. Like no other art, it is the origin of our visual culture, which today dominates film, television, and the internet.


Lee Friedlander Nashville, Tennessee, 1963 Gelatin silver print Fundación MAPFRE collections © Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Since its invention (which in just over a decade will be two centuries old) it has occupied a prominent place in other fields that have more to do with the presumed authenticity that an image conveys. From portraits, which have become universally accessible thanks to it, to mugshots, press photography, scientific photography, advertising, etc.

Although photography is all this and much more, we at Fundación MAPFRE are more interested in artistic photography, in its intellectual and emotional content. Photography is the natural language of the visual arts, as its versatility allows it to precisely describe one’s perception of the environment, while transmitting emotions at the same time.

It extracts a moment from time and space, and its mystery lies in making that moment unique, traveling from the past to the future and remaining in the quiet contemplation of the present. That is where we find its strength, in the permanence of the artist’s spirit and the captured image.

As cultural institutions, we are responsible for helping people appreciate human creativity through exhibitions and by creating collections that preserve the works from the deterioration of time and the vicissitudes of memory. Aware of its important role, the Fundación began its photography collection in 2007 and its exhibition program two years later.

Since then, the acquisitions and photography exhibitions have had closely linked contents, in order to progressively form an important project that highlights the relevance of the photographic image as a language, a window and a dialogue between humanity and the contemporary world.

In just a few years, with permanent programming in our galleries in Madrid and Barcelona (four and six exhibitions respectively), and with considerable international activity (currently our exhibitions or collection are shown in museums such as the Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the FOAM in Amsterdam, or the MOMA in San Francisco, to name just a few), the Fundación has become a global benchmark in this art. It is also the most active Spanish institution thanks to its exhibits, publications, educational and scientific activities, and a major collection that covers a century of creation: an especially rich tool for showing the extraordinary contemporary adventure in all its immense diversity and complexity, which is already among the most important in the country. From major names in photography such as Walker Evans, Paul Strand, Lee Friedlander, or Diane Arbus, to the new generations of young Spanish or international photographers, it highlights incredible sets of works that make Fundación MAPFRE indispensable when speaking of important artists like Paul Strand, Nicholas Nixon, Graciela Iturbide, Paz Errázuriz, Paolo Gasparini, or Carlos Pérez Siquier.

To celebrate World Photography Day, on Saturday, August 19, Fundación MAPFRE will offer free entry all day to its locations in Madrid and Barcelona. 

In Madrid, there is an exhibit of the works by Louis Stettner and Anastasia. Image Cities. 

In the KBr Fundación MAPFRE Barcelona center you can visit the Tina Modotti and La Cataluña de Jules Ainaud exhibits. 

Reserve your ticket at