Spanish version

'William Christenberry - They aren't photographies, they are stories' at Mapfre Azca

William Christenberry exhibition

'William Christenberry - They aren't photographies, they are stories' can be visited at Fundación Mapfre Azca until next November 24th.
The presentation of the exhibition was a few days ago.


This is one the most complete exhibitions dedicated to the photographer William Christenberry (1936, Alabama). He is much more than a photographer, although in this occasion he is studied as photographer. In the exhibition are also some of his sculptures and installations related to one of his obsessions, the Ku-Klux-Klan.

He not only works with photography, but observes reality from the photographer's point of view.


He knows how to transmit a sensation of time passing by. And this with just a few elements. He used the most common cameras of his time and obtained an 'industrial' color which he turned into an element of his language incorporating it into the history of modern contemporary photography.

In the end, photography is just an instrument to tell stories. And Christenberry tells us stories which become ours.

The exhibition shows over 326 works dating  from 1961 until 2005, a time that coverWilliam Christenberry exhibitions almost all his activity as photographer. It is the second exhibition of his works in Europe where he is not too well known, although some of his works are in the MoMa of New York.

Christenberry is considered as one of the pioneers of colour photography. When he started taking pictures, colour photography was more or less a second category reserved for magazines or cinema. The real photography was made in black and white. But Christenberry helped to give color photography its place in art.

In his works he shows us the history of South US, his memories, his dreams and those of his countrymen. A part of his works is dedicated to the racial problem which he knew when studying at University.

He started taking pictures as a way to study colors for his paintings. He used a Browning camera. The use of this camera is important because it turned amateur photography into artistic photography. His photographies were sent to a local shop to be developed.

The exhibition is divided into different chapters, the first one of these dedicated to black and white photographies. In them we can recognized the influence Walker Evans had on Christenberry. He made him use photography as an expressive resource. In this section we can see one of the few pictures William Christenberry exhibitionshowing a human being. Christenberry shows human action in his photographies but no the human himself. He is interested in the transforming activities of men in relation to nature and the objects he produces.
The second chapter is dedicated to the main topics of his work which started in his trips. He photographed the same things over an over again, for years, specially typical buildings. Some of the series took him years to finish. He likes to observe the passage of time on objects, the ageing, the transformation and. sometimes even, the reawakening.
The third chapter is dedicated to objects belonging to popular culture, like advertisements, another of Christenberry's prefered topics.
The last chapter is dedicated to the return to nature (more or less in 1970). Christenberry looks at nature as it is, not idealizing it, but taking into account those elements which transform it (trees, roads).

The exhibition is open on Mondays from 14:00 to 21:00, from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 to 21:00 and on Sundays and holidays from 12:00 a 20:00.

The entrance is free.


Photographies: Rafael Castañeda Fotografia

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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