|Republican militiaman: Photograph by Agusti Centelles|
|Manning the barricades in Barcelona: Photograph by Agusti Centelles|
Passion and compassion, an instinct for shutter-framing history, the moments and images, when added to together, record the best and worst of humankind.
This was to be Centelles' three years of hell as he took his Leica into action, recorded 10,000 photographs, most in the Barcelona area, including the July 1936 uprising.
His works speak for themselves, and 40 of his images are on display for the first time in the United States, at the New York University's King Juan Carols I of Spain Center.
Curated by Joaquin D. Gasea and Michael Nash (NYU Tamient Library) and organized with the Centro Documental de la Memoria Historica in Salamanca, Spain, the photographs, like those of Robert Capa and his photog mates, speak volumes about the horrors of war.
This was his war, Centelles´personal war.
The three Jewish European idealogs, all famous photojournalists—Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour (Chim)—may have captured more headlines, but Centelles of Cataluña, captured the Catalun soul in his works.
“The Spanish Civil War Photographs of Agusti Centelles ("The French Suitcase"), which opened 5 October, continues through 15 December.
More photographer than writer, Centelles kept a detailed diary that has become a significant part of the collective memory of this war that took the lives of about 1 million Spaniards.
The war is still fought, in its own way, in villages like mine, Canillas de Albaida, tucked in the mountains 19 kilometers from the sea near Torre del Mar.
The psychological scar tissue is palpable, visible.
|The Abraham Lincoln Brigade (USA): Photograph by Agusti Centelles|
The tragic part of Cantelles' story is his exile to southwest France and return to Spain after the start of WW II.
When he, like so many thousands of Republican fighters and families fled across the Pyrenees to France, Centelles brought with him a suitcase, now called “The French Suitcase.”
In it, more than 6,000 negatives of his 1936 – 39 work as war photojournalist. He found a secret place to stash it in France.
He fled back to Spain, a choice between two evils.
Centelles had aided the French partisans and again, feared for his life and running from the Gestapo.
And in Spain, during Franco´s reign as dictator, these negatives remained in this suitcase.
Spanish fascists in 1939 had seized another 4,000 negatives and various documents, using them to persecute and likely imprison and/or execute former Republican fighters or sympathizers and families.
Centelles would not take the chance that Franco would persecute and repress others he pictured during the civil war. So they remained in hiding.
In 1976, after Franco´s demise, Centelles retrieved the negatives.
In 2009, the Spanish government bought the French Suitcase negatives from Centelles´two sons for a reported 700,000 Euros.
They are now part of Salamanca archives of the civil war.
|Santos Yubero Photograph by Agusti Centelles|
Various assemblages of his works have shown throughout Europe, and now the United States.
Robert Capa, Gerda Taro & David Seymour (Chim)
|40 photographs from the Agust Centelles collection now on show at New York University´s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center|
|In the trenches at the Battle of Belchite Photograph by Augusi Centelles|
|The French Suitcase: Photograph by Agusti Centelles|
Young said each of the trio contributed about a third of the recovered negatives, providing new insights into Taro´s role, as some of her work was later attributed to Capa´s.
|Outside of Cómpeta, Spain, memorial where Loyalist (Franco) soldier was executed in 1937, photograph by Stefan van Drake (2011)|
A cold war where memories enervate the nerve tissues of old and painful wounds.
|Barcelona, Via Layetana 1936: Photograph by Agusti Centelles|
Women more than men will probably view "The Mexican Suitcase."
|Death & Futility of War: Photograph by Augusi Centelles|
"Letters and dispatches of the past provided image equivalents but civil war in the 20th Century Spain became an object of passionate reportage and interpretation with the camera.
|Barcelona Uprising 1936: Photograph by Agusti Centelles|
|Agusti Centelles' Leica: 10,000 images of the Spanish Civil War|
Michener said the 69-day battle for Teruel cost 28,000 Republican and 10,000 Loyalist soldier´s lives plus thousands of civilians dead, assassinated in reprisals.
|Robert Capa, Republican officer and Gerda Taro, University City, Madrid, February 1937, negative|
19 Feb. 1937:
Robert Merriman, Lincoln Brigade.
|Chim (David Seymour), Two Republican soldiers carrying a crucifix, Madrid, October - November 1936, negative|
Dr. John Simon, M.D., Lincoln Brigade.
Dr. John Simon.
|Chim (David Seymour), Outdoor mass for Republican soldiers, near Lekeitio, Basque region, Spain, January--February 1937, negative|
"It´s a pretty horrible thing—she´s got plenty of guts and certainly can take it—you never hear a whimper out of her. She´s about 10 years old. It´s the same sort of thing you see in places that have been bombed, only more of it. It´s a stinking business.”
Toby Jensky, Lincoln Brigade, Madrid, 21 June 1937.
|Gerda Taro, Republican soldier on a motorcyle, Navacerrada Pass, Segovia front, Spain, late May - early June 1937|
Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)
Experience a week-long mosaics or sculpture workshop or a walking holiday in our mountains above the Med. See: www.spanjeanders.nl and www.competafinearts.com.
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Bangkok-based free-lance writer, editor and photographer Lance R. Woodruff may be reached at email@example.com.