El querido Buenos Aires de Horacio Coppola

The Telefonica Foundation is dedicating an extraordinary homenage to founding father of Argentinean photography, Horacio Coppola, including 125 photos and 4 short films, with the attempt to reconstruct Coppola’s original view of the city Buenos Aires and its way to modernity. Coppola’s great series is Viejo Buenos Aires, adiós (1936,) an exquisite collection that conjugates a certain nostalgia for the city’s gradually lost small-town flavor and a fascination with the march of progress.

Also exhibited in this retrospective is a true jewel filmed by Coppola in one of several excursions into cinematography. It is Así nació el obelisco, a 16 mm film now transferred to digital format and presented in a small gallery situated in the middle of the series of photographs. Coppola’s film, his look at the workers that build what was to become the city’s most recognizable symbol, is an invitation to think about the construction of symbols, the historical and affective load carried by the monuments around us. In this case, thanks to Coppola’s opportune intervention and his timely appreciation of the importance of the monster, initially resisted by the citizens, it is possible to see the future in each hit of the hammer and in the balance of the workers —perhaps ignorant of the relevance of their work— and their high beams. Furthermore, the exhibition include the short films Traum (Berlin, 1933), Un dique del Sena (Paris, 1934) and A Sunday in Hampstead Heath (London, 1935).

Coppola was born in Buenos Aires in 1906. He taught himself photography at the age of 21 and was hired to shoot Jorge Luis Borges for the first edition of “Evarista Carriego.” In the late 20s, he came to Europe, travelling to Germany, France, Spain and Italy. The purchase of a Leica in Germany plunge Coppola into street photography. On a second trip to Germany, he studied photography at Bauhaus under the direction of Mies Van der Rohe. until its closure by the Nazis. In 1937 he opened a photo studio together with his German wife Grete Stern with the aim to enter to the advertisement world. Now at the age of 101, the Telefonica Foundation in Madrid is dedicating a retrospective to Horacio Coppola in their new exhibition halls.

Exhibition: 10 April – 25 May 2008


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