Through La Fábrica—the Madrid-based publishing house he also directs, journalist Alberto Arnaut aims to incite a cultural debate in Matador, or in his own words a “campo de batalla” (battlefield) for ideas in all genres. The work of painters, sculptors, photographers, novelists, poets, playwrights, essayists, philosophers, architects, filmmakers, actors, chefs, musicians, fashion designers, and more adorn the pages of the lavish folio-size issues. Published annually since 1995 beginning with the letter A, the publishers are committed to completing 28 issues in 2022 when they reach the letter Z.
It is difficult to describe what takes place in Matador until you put your hands on an issue. Other than the dimensions, no issue is alike and each takes on a distinct theme. The magazine is predominantly visual with an emphasis on creators from the Iberoamerican world such as artists Miguel Barceló, Luis Gordillo and Eduardo Chillida; photographers Francesc Català-Roca, Xavier Miserachs, Ramón Masats; and filmmakers Bigas Luna and Gonzalo Suárez. However, contributions from all the continents establish an international dialogue. The words of contemporary fiction writers such as Javier Marías, Juan Goytisolo, Elena Poniatowska, and Juan Villoro engage with the deceased such as Rafael Alberti, Clarice Lispector, José Saramago and others. The texts of French theoreticians Hélène Cixous and Paul Virilio and the Department of Spanish Portuguese’s own Alex-Saum Pascual can also be encountered in Matador.
This year, the Art History/Classic Library was able to acquire all issues to date (A-T) as a joint purchase with the Romance Languages Librarian and is now one of only three libraries in California with a full-run and subscription.
A guest posting by Seamus Howard, Student Archival Processing Assistant in the Pictorial Unit, Bancroft Library
What makes a photograph good?
As a student working in the Bancroft Pictorial Unit, I’ve been going through hundreds and hundreds of photographs daily. I’ve seen my share of good and bad photos.
One might stand out as “good” due to the lighting, crisp focus, correct staging, and exposure — good cropping perhaps, or just clarity of subject. Ultimately, the answer is a combination of factors, and can be completely subjective.
For me, the most important factor is moment.
The 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition was full of special moments captured in photographs which continue to shed light on the character and tone of the United States during the early 20th century.
One special moment was former President William Howard Taft visiting the P.P.I.E.
Working to re-house and inventory about 6,700 photographic prints in large, brittle ledger books, I’ve encountered numerous shots of this visit, thoroughly recorded by the Cardinell-Vincent Company, the exposition’s official photographers.
President Taft was an early supporter of the exposition, declaring in early 1911 that San Francisco would be the official home of the fair. He attended the groundbreaking eight months later and returned to San Francisco in 1915 to see the fair in all its glory.
Taft’s visit to the fair was seemingly a large event. He was accompanied wherever he went, soldiers or guards escorting him from building to building. Taft continued to be a very important person at this time. He had lost his reelection to Wilson in 1912, and returned to Yale as a professor of law and government.
Taft visited many of the fair’s popular buildings and exhibits, including the Japanese Pavilion, Swedish Building, Norway Building, and the art gallery and courtyard of the French Pavilion. He met foreign representatives, fair officials, and experienced much of what the fair had to offer.
And President Taft experienced the unique blend of cultures and stories the fair provided. Here, in my favorite photograph of Taft’s time at the fair, he walks through a hall lined with busts in the Swedish building, flanked by guards. Taft seems enveloped by the art and is perfectly framed between his escorts and the lines of busts, drawing your eye towards Taft at the center. This moment makes a great photograph.
The Bancroft Pictorial team continues to house and describe the collection, and will update this blog with more photographs and details as we progress. Stay tuned!
Bancroft Library’s first Round Table of the semester will take place in the Lewis-Latimer Room of The Faculty Club at noon on Thursday, February 16. Cathy Cade, documentary photographer, will present “Views of the Women’s Liberation and Feminist Movements of the 1970s and 1980s: Selections from the Cathy Cade Photograph Archive.”
Cathy Cade was introduced to the power of documentary photography as she participated in the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s. In the years that followed, she took an array of images that depict the women’s liberation movement, union women, trades women, lesbian feminism, lesbian mothering, lesbians of color, LGBT freedom days, fat activism, and the disability rights movement. Cade will speak of her personal experiences with social justice causes and the connections between these movements and communities. She will feature highlights drawn from her extensive photograph archive acquired by The Bancroft Library over the past several years.
We hope to see you there.
José Adrián Barragán-Álvarez and Kathi Neal
Bancroft Library Staff
OldNYC provides an alternative way of browsing the extensive collection of Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s held at the New York Public Library. The site was created (in collaboration with others) by software engineer Dan Vanderkamof, who also built OldSF. Each of the websites is an interactive city map that contains dots at the locations where each photo was captured. Click on a dot to see historic photos of that location.
“The photographs in the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed for most of its existence by Roy E. Stryker, who guided the effort in a succession of government agencies: the Resettlement Administration (1935-1937), the Farm Security Administration (1937-1942), and the Office of War Information (1942-1944). The collection also includes photographs acquired from other governmental and non-governmental sources, including the News Bureau at the Offices of Emergency Management (OEM), various branches of the military, and industrial corporations.”
These photographs were originally intended to document the need for agricultural assistance and to record how the FSA addressed that need. However, the scope of the collection far exceeded these parameters and the collection encompasses pictures that depict everyday life of Americans, the effects of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the migration West or to industrial cities of displaced people, and America’s mobilization for World War II. Represented in the collection are works of well-known photographers of the period, including Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Jack Delano, and Esther Bubley.
Not all of the images were printed, but even so the number of printed images became difficult to manage. The archivist Paul Vanderbilt was hired to arrange them and, recognizing that researchers would approach the collection with different needs, he devised two organizational schemes. He first organized sets of prints into “stories,” generally consisting of images with the same subject matter or from a specific geographic region. These were called LOTs (examples of which can be found in Documenting America: Photographers on Assignment.) The LOTs were microfilmed by the Library of Congress.
This organization scheme is also reflected in the microfiche collection of the printed photographs, called America 1935-1946: the photographs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Security Administration, and the U.S. Office of War Information. The Library’s copy of this collection is housed in the Newspapers & Microforms Library, located in 40 Doe Library.
Since the unprinted photographs did not have this organizational scheme applied to them, they are not as easily accessible through the online catalog search. After conducting a search, go to the description for any FSA/OWI image and select the “Browse neighboring items by call number” link. The Library of Congress continues its efforts to add metadata to these records so they will increasingly be easier to locate.