Fotografia a Catalunya

Xavier Miserachs

Xavier Miserachs


Xavier Miserachs was born in Barcelona on 12 July 1937, the son of Manuel Miserachs, a hematologist, and Montserrat Ribalta, a librarian. During his adolescence he came into contact with photography at the Eulàlia Technical Institute alongside his fellow students, the brothers Ramon and Antoni Fabregat. In 1952 he became a member of the Photography Association of Catalonia where he met Oriol Maspons, with whom he would have a life-long friendship. In 1954, at the age of 17, he won the 1st Luis Navarro Trophy, awarded by the Photography Association of Catalonia's 2nd National Modern Photography Salon. That same year he started his medical studies, which he would abandon in the final year in order to devote himself entirely to photography.

In 1957 there was the first of two, now historic exhibitions that brought together the photographers Xavier Miserachs, Ricard Terré and Ramón Masats. The exhibition was held at the premises of the Photography Association of Catalonia in Barcelona, those of the Photography Association of Almeria, and at the Royal Photographic Society in Madrid, centres which channelled the main currents of avant-garde Spanish photography at the time. That first exhibition marked the beginning of what the Barcelona critic Josep Maria Casademont would call, "the new avant-garde" of Spanish photography. Two years later, in 1959, the second of the Terré-Miserachs-Masats trio's exhibitions, directed by Casademont, was held at the recently opened Aixelà Salon in Barcelona.

In 1961, after completing his military service, Miserachs set up his own studio, where he worked on commissions as a professional photographer whilst also pursuing his own photography, that would later be published in his iconic 1960s photograph books, Barcelona. Blanc i Negre (Aymà, 1964), Costa Brava Show (Kairós, 1966) and Los cachorros (Lumen, 1967). These books laid the foundations of the avant-garde photography of the time. Outstanding amongst the photographers whose work had most influence on him was William Klein and his books on cities, particularly the first book devoted to New York, published in 1955. Similarly, the exhibition, The Family of Man (1955) made a profound impression on him, as it did on all the other photographers of his generation, an impression that would go on to have a defining influence on the poetic neorealism with which people's migration to new metropolitan environments was captured on film.

Towards the end of the 1960s Miserachs broadened his scope to include advertising, documentary reports and, quite frequently, photography publishing. From 1966 onwards he started to travel frequently on account of the work he was doing as a correspondent for the publications, La Actualidad Española, Gaceta Ilustrada, La Vanguardia, Interviú and Triunfo. In 1968 he signed an annual exclusive availability contract with Triunfo for which he produced reports such as "Paris wonders whether it's a revolution", "From Nanterre to the barricades" and "Prague Spring". In 1969 he was the cofounder of the photography department, and its first teacher, at the Eina school. In 1970 his activities began to include, on occasion, cinema. As director of photography he made two underground films that were directed by Enrique Vila-Matas and Emma Cohen and also in 1970 he directed and produced the silent short story, Amén.

During the last years of his life Miserachs took up the pen to express his vision of photography. It was a belligerent view of what he considered to be the dominant photographic culture and its institutions, a view that can be found in his last two books, Fulls de contactes. Memòries (Edicions 62, 1998) and Criterio fotográfico (Omega, 1998), both of which were published the year he died.

Xavier Miserachs died on 14 August 1998 at the age of 61, shortly after having been awarded the Cross of Saint George by the Generalitat de Catalunya.



Fotografia: Autoretrat de Xavier Miserachs. Fons personal de les hereves de l'artista (CC-by-sa)


2015 (del 18 de setembre al 28 de març). FERNÁNDEZ, Horacio (comis.). Miserachs Barcelona. MACBA, Barcelona.

2008. TERRÉ, Laura (comis.). Francesc Català-Roca i Xavier Miserachs. Dues mirades al territori de la Costa Brava. ...

See the exhibitions


Fotollibres o llibres il·lustrats:

MISERACHS, Xavier; ESPINÀS, Josep Maria. Barcelona. Blanc i negre. Barcelona: Electa, 2003 / Ed. orig. 1964.

MISERACHS, Xavier; VÁZQUEZ MONTALBAN, Manuel. Costa Brava Show. Barcelona: Kai...

See the bibliography