The photographic collection of Francesc Català-Roca (Valls, 1922-Barcelona, 1998), one of the most relevant of the 20th century, remains in Catalonia. Culture Minister Natàlia Garriga announced yesterday the purchase by the Generalitat of the entire archive (167,701 black and white and color negatives, 3,109 color slides, about 14,000 contact sheets and 2,000 more vintage copies ) for two million euros. The images will be deposited in the National Archives of Catalonia and the MNAC, a museum where a large anthological exhibition will be dedicated to it in the coming years.
The acquisition takes place at the end of the Català-Roca year, which commemorates the centenary of the photographer's birth, and aims to preserve the integrity of the collection and its dissemination, as well as to prevent its departure from Catalonia . A threat that had been gaining strength in recent times and that has traumatic precedents such as the sale, in 2009, of the Agustí Centelles fund to the Ministry of Culture and then deposited in the Documental Center of the Historical Memory of Salamanca.
"The Català-Roca fund belongs to the country and for the country", Garriga pointed out at a presentation event held at Palau Moja, which was attended by numerous family members and friends of the photographer. The purchase is made once the temporary deposit made by the children of Català-Roca in 2007 to the College of Architects of Catalonia (COAC) has expired and whose expectations were frustrated by the crisis of 2008. In fact , despite the work that has been done over the years, which the heirs are grateful for, 85% of the images are still awaiting digitization.
The Català-Roca archive treasures "the work of many years of dedication, milestones, research, innovations and relevant information", assured the photographer's son, Andreu Català Pedersen, satisfied to have found the best destination for an immense impossible legacy to manage outside the big institutions. A set that, he considered, "is a wonderful journey through the 20th century through the eyes of a unique photographer who mastered very well the art of translating the visible world into two-dimensional images". And he recalled that, in 1973, his wise look "was reinvented in color, because he believed that color was very important, since nature is in color, because the painting of his friend Joan Miró is in color, because if "If color photography had been invented, no one would have missed black and white," he said.
The purchase of the entire Català-Roca archive, "the Bach of photography, prolific and varied", according to his son, will make the images accessible to everyone. This is one of the most relevant operations within the acquisitions policy of the National Art Collection of Catalonia, thanks to which other funds have been incorporated, such as that of Josep Brangulí in 1992 or that of Pilar Aymerich in 2011.
It currently has 50,000 works, some of which have become part of it in the form of donations, such as that of the photographer Joan Colom in 2012 (in this case, in exchange for a lifetime pension to the photographer's heirs), Josep Maria Casals Ariet or Pere Formiguera, in addition to deposits from the Agrupació Fotogràfica de Catalunya or part of the Oriol Maspons fund, a total of 200 photographs, acquired through the MNAC by patron Elsa Peretti.