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The Telefonica Contemporary Photography Collection

The Telefonica Contemporary Photography Collection


28 January 2005 - 5 June 2005
Ground floor
From Tuesday to Saturday (holidays included), from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo
Carlota Álvarez Basso

The Telefónica Contemporary Photography Collection at MARCO Vigo

As an avant-garde company committed to information technologies and communications, the Telefónica Group has gathered an outstanding photography Collection in Spain: The Telefónica Foundation's Contemporary Photography Collection.

The Collection aims to reflect the change in the paradigm of visual culture that has taken place over the last few decades, wherein photography has become an instrument of artistic value, acquiring consciousness of its expressive capacity and of its value as an activity of representation, subverting the very codes and languages employed in the medium.

The challenge this project implies makes manifest Telefónica's continued determination to promote line of corporate collections shaped by contemporary art. Collecting XX century art is a new facet of Spanish culture and staking on a photography collection in an institutional framework both serves to fill a significant void in the artistic patrimony of our day and to once again demonstrate Telefónica's commitment to the new languages and new technologies applied in the realms of communication and artistic creation.

In order to make the interpretation of the exhibition easier to the audience, MARCO has followed a thematic installation organized around six main subjects, some of which are classic genres in the history of art: portrait, landscape, indoors and outdoors architectural photography, urban scenes and the body as stepping-stone for plastic communication.




Following the exhibition organized and hosted by Telefónica Foundation in Madrid in February 2004, where the collection was presented in public for the first time, MARCO Vigo will be the first stop of this exhibition in its lengthy tour around Spanish museums and art centres.

The focal point of this collection is the turning point where photography, on the threshold of the XXI century, changes from document into story. Photography begins to become aware of its own expressive possibilities and the value of its representative action, subverting codes and languages used by this medium.

Since the exhibition has been developed from emblematic artists of contemporary plasticity, it includes radical and conceptual, aesthetic and narrative, and documentary and social approaches. It is a whole that reflects the variety and eclecticism of a rarely prolific creative moment.

The artists on the Telefónica Contemporary Photography Collection use photography as a means of expression and experimentation. Their images speak of what the art experience is today in the context of contemporary culture.

Given that nowadays there is no doubt about the artistic value of photography and it has become one of the most commonly used artistic expressions by contemporary creators, it was necessary to start this Collection showing some sort of preference, with a markedly historical bias. It therefore begins in the sixties, with the works by the Düsseldorf School, the European disciples of Bernd and Hilla Becher (Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky) and the American disciples of John Baldessari (Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman), evolving towards cinematic-pictorial photography (Jeff Wall, Sam Taylor-Wood), and the most modern narrative developments.

The commonly accepted distinction between photographers and artists using photography is nowadays gradually disappearing. The current creators make use of photography with complete freedom and awareness, without feeling obliged to demonstrating the virtues or possibilities of this medium, as it has already proven right in its 170 years of history.

Photography has substituted painting in many cases. The invention of the camera made it faster, more accurate and more precise to take a real image, discrediting the technical virtuosity of painters and bringing the audience closer to a new reality.

From analogue to digital photography, all the latest technologies used in this art are represented in this exhibition, as well as some decisive examples of the relationship between photography and performances or social documents.

Different genres deeply rooted in the history of art, such as portrait, landscape or architectural photography, constitute this collection that includes the classic subjects of contemporary art, from the restoration of historical memory, to social denunciation, the criticism of social processes or the use of the body as stepping-stone for plastic communication.



    Francis Alÿs
    Shirin Neshat
    Andreas Gursky
    Andrés Serrano
    Axel Hütte
    Bleda y Rosa:
    Candida Höfer
    Cindy Sherman
    Gabriel Orozco
    Gonzalo Puch
    Günther Förg
    Helena Almeida
    James Casebere
    John Baldessari
    John Coplans
    José Manuel Ballester
    Jürgen Klauke
    Jörg Sasse
    Marina Abramovic
    Miguel Río Branco
    Miriam Bäckström
    Mona Hatoum
    Olafur Eliasson
    Panos Kokkinias
    Paul Graham
    Per Barclay
    Philip-Lorca diCorcia
    Pierre Gonnord
    Richard Prince
    Sabine Hornig
    Salla Tykkä
    Sam Taylor-Wood
    Sherrie Levine
    Thomas Ruff
    Thomas Struth
    Vik Muniz
    Zhang Huan


Carlota Álvarez Basso

Carlota Álvarez Basso (Vigo, 1964) studied Sociology at Nanterre University, Paris, France. From 1992 to 1999 she was Head of the A/V Artworks Department at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. She also directed the Congress and Exhibitions Hall in Pontevedra from 1999 to 2001 and designed and started up MARCO, Museum of Contemporary Art Vigo, which she directed until 2005.

He has curated many national and international exhibitions and she has been member of several honourable committees and advisory boards of cultural institutions. She has also participated as a member of the panels of contests and festivals. She offered national and international lectures and round-table meetings. She also wrote a wide range of critic texts for catalogues and magazines.