Séville (Seville)

Brassaï (Gyula Halász)

Brasov, Romania, 1899 - Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, 1984
  • Series: 
    Séville (Seville)
  • Date: 
    1950 / Vintage print
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    30 x 23,5 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 
  • Bequest of Mme. Gilberte Jacqueline Boyer, widow of Brassaï, 2010

Brassaï came to Spain in the early 1950s to photograph the Holy Week and Seville Fair celebrations. Harper’s Bazaar magazine published a report using the photographs in April 1953, and the artist then prepared a wider selection which was published a year later under the title Seville en fête, with seventy photographs and a series of explanatory texts, including Brassaï’s own article “De la Semaine Sainte à la Féria”. Combining an (involved) outsider’s eye with journalistic objectivity, Brassaï took in all the elements of the Sevillian festivities: bullfighting, dancing, religious processions and so on. The book was translated into a number of languages but remained unpublished in Spain as it contained some images of a less than acceptable social reality that would never have got past the censor. Brassaï’s series of photographs was done at a time when all photographic discussion in Spain vacillated between the burgeoning promotion of tourism and a neorealist style social criticism. Against this background, Brassaï’s Sevillian images connected equally with his Surrealist past and the international humanist photography movement; in the Holy Week photographs, counterbalancing Brassaï’s evident interest in the spectacular religious images there is a focus on the spectators and participants which builds into a very specific atlas of Spanish humanity towards the end of Franco’s autarky. With their dual documentary/expressive nature, these series present neither a folk reading from a traditional European view of Spain, nor any direct political critique.

Concha Calvo Salanova