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Photo of the Week #193

Vicente MartĂ­nez Sanz

Black and white image of a man reading a book, with a large superimposed face of a woman looming over him.

Visión, 1932
Vintage gelatin silver print
5 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches


May 16, 2022
Vicente Martínez Sanz was among the very earliest art photographers in Spain. He was trained as a traditional Spanish painter and this was evidenced in his early work which often depicted folkloric scenes in a pictorialist style. By 1932, however, Sanz’s photography began exhibiting clear surrealist influences. This photomontage is an excellent example of the surrealist direction in Sanz’s work, with its use of experimental techniques to suggest the workings of the subconscious mind.

A picture like this bears a strong resemblance to contemporaneous works by surrealist photographers like Maurice Tabard and Man Ray, which is all the more remarkable given Spain’s relative cultural isolation in the period. That said, while the surrealist movement was centered in Paris, the direct involvement of Spanish artists such as Picasso, Miro, Dali, and Buñuel meant that there were strong Spanish ties to the movement.

Because Spanish photography developed to a large degree along its own trajectory, photographers like Vicente Martínez Sanz have often been overlooked in official histories of fine art photography. None the less, the photomontage "Vision" was awarded Commendation in the 14th Annual Competition of American Photography. A print was also exhibited again in 1985 in the New York exhibition “Idas y Chaos: Trends in Spanish Photography 1920-1945”, at the International Center of Photography. We are grateful to the Martinez Sanz Estate and friends in Spain for this wonderful opportunity.