This year PHotoESPAÑA—Spain’s annual festival celebrating photography—marks its 20th anniversary with a potpourri of international imagery, on view in dozens of venues throughout Madrid throughout the summer. As seen during press week, several highlights follow.
Leica Century: One of the most revelatory shows in PHE17 is With Eyes Wide Open: 100 Years of Leica Photography, a massive compendium tracing the evolution of street photography since the invention of the handheld 35mm camera circa 1913. The exhibition includes artifacts such as the Ur-Leica prototype (above) that inventor Oskar Barnack unveiled in 1914—a design breakthrough of compact craftsmanship that revolutionized photography when it hit the market in the 1920s.
“Barnack constructed a metal body that was small, flat, lightweight and could slip in any pocket,” says Hans-Michael Koetzle, curator of the Leica exhibition and author of the immense monograph of the same title. “The goal was to make it as simple as possible—no baroque, no decoration, but a well working object in the spirit of Bauhaus. Barnack’s design was perfect in its dimensions and until today the basic form of the viewfinder camera has never been changed.” The Leica group show includes hundreds of examples of spontaneous magic by pioneering photographers ranging from Alexander Rodtschenko to Henri Cartier-Bresson to William Eggleston. At Fundación Telefónica through September 10. Photo © Leica Camera AG
Pierre Molinier: A half-dozen PHE17 shows are curated by famed Spanish photographer Alberto García-Alix, who proclaimed during press week: “The core elements of artistic expression are sex and death—and most pictures about sex are reflections of one’s self.” Case in point: Pierre Molinier’s beautiful yet bizarre images of fetishistic eroticism—including the above images “Hanel” and “La poupée”—which reflect the late artist’s transgender life in 20th-century France while pushing the boundaries of photomontage. At Círculo de Bellas Artes through September 24. Photos © ADAGP Pierre Molinier, courtesy Kamel Mennour, Paris
Peter Fraser: In his large-scale series Mathematics, this British fine-art photographer seeks order in the environment by drawing on his subjects’ mathematical properties, as in the above untitled study in an Italian cathedral. At Real Jardín Botánico through August 31. Photo © Peter Fraser
Elliot Erwitt: This legendary lensman shows no sign of slowing down as he approaches his tenth decade. In 2015, at age 87, Erwitt returned to a fertile shooting ground—Cuba—to document modern street life. Erwitt had previously visited Cuba on assignment for Newsweek in 1964, when he candidly followed Fidel Castro (above) and Che Guevara basking in attention around the island. Both bodies of work comprise a headline exhibition at PHE17. At Real Jardín Botánico through August 31. Photo © Elliot Erwitt
Minor White: Along with familiar classics, this White retrospective reveals many lesser-known gems meticulously printed by the black-and-white master (above are “Untitled” and “Portland, Oregon”). The show includes portraits of White, by his friend Abe Frajndlich, revealing a playful side of the conflicted artist at the end of his life. At Loewe Gran Vía through August 27. Photos (from left) courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY, and Michael Shapiro Photographs, Westport, Conn.