Fotografia a Catalunya

Josep Maria Sagarra i Plana

Josep Maria Sagarra i Plana


Josep Maria Sagarra i Plana was born in Sarrià in 1885 into a wealthy, Barcelonese bourgeois family and he died on 31 October 1959. A photographer by profession, Sagarra is considered to be one of the most representative photojournalists of the second generation of this profession in Catalonia and a member of the 'pre-Leica' generation that also included Brangulí, Pérez de Rozas, Gaspar and Torrents, all of them heirs to the founders of Catalan photojournalism. Not much is known about Sagarra's early life. We know that he studied with the Jesuits in Sarrià and that his father, an energetic and religious man, wanted him to become a priest. When he refused to continue with his studies this led to a breach in the family which enabled him to become independent and move to Paris, where he worked for some years in the Gomon photography company.

Thus his interest in photography developed at a very early age. The photographs he took at the age of 24 of the Setmana Tràgica (Tragic Week) in 1909 were published and his first official press card, which has been preserved by the family, is dated 1910. Upon his return he set himself up as a press photographer providing photographs to accompany reports. During the first three decades of the 20th century his work was published by a large number of illustrated Catalan society magazines. He was hard-working and in 1929, on the occasion of the Universal Exposition, he founded a company with Josep Gaspar and Pau Lluís Torrents, his brother-in-law. This alliance, which had its premises in Sagarra's apartment in Via Laietana 54, became known as 'The Three Kings' and lasted for some years.

Sagarra was the secretary of the Mútua L'Aliança company and this facilitated his contact with prominent figures of the day, especially those from the worlds of culture and politics such as the prime minister, Eduardo Dato. He also covered all the visits of king Alfons XIII to Catalonia and worked as a photographer for the Generalitat de Catalunya and its presidents Macià and Companys. During the Spanish Civil War he was a photographer for La Vanguardia newspaper. After the war his colleagues went into exile but he decided to stay despite the difficulties of returning to work as a photojournalist. He was purged from the profession, denied a press card and was not readmitted to La Vanguardia. During those years he worked sporadically with the EFE agency, Hola magazine and as a photographer at celebrations and social events.


NAVARRO MOLLEVÍ, Imma. “El fons del fotògraf Josep Maria Sagarra i Plana (1894-1959)”. Butlletí del Servei d’Arxius del Departament de Cultura [en línia]. Núm. 34 (2002), p.7. <

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