"Looking for a Job", 1948. Courtesy Utopian.

En almost all photographers there is a flâneur soul, the pleasure of wandering through cities, looking with attentive eyes and making discoveries. The flâneur kept these images in his memory, the photographer gives us his impressions in a photograph. Narrating everyday life, pointing out what deserves to be seen, stopping to observe the smallest details, situations that no one would give a damn about. This is how German Lorca (1922-2021) parades his photographs under our eyes. An attentive, critical and often ironic look. 

German Lorca photographed in 2018 by his son, José Henrique Lorca. Courtesy of the author.
German Lorca photographed in 2018 by his son, José Henrique Lorca. Courtesy of the author.

Born in 1922 – theoretically the year when the Modernism in Brazil -, this São Paulo native from the gem of Brás, son of Spanish immigrants, with a restless walk and an easy smile, got to know the world through the photographs he saw in the press, in the newspapers, in the magazines. In 1940 he graduated with a degree in accounting, a profession that seemed tight on him. He wanted to wander, photograph, walk through that 1940s city that was being modernized, that was growing. He wanted their reflections, their lights, their narratives. And it was on one of his tours that he took his first impact photograph, in 1947: a snapshot of a protest against the increase in trams in São Paulo. He was delighted with his record. Two years later he became part of Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante, which became known for bringing modernity to Brazilian photography. It was at Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante that names such as Thomaz Farkas, Marcel Giró, Geraldo de Barros and Gaspar Gasparian started experimentalism, breaking boundaries and bringing an image that constantly played with European avant-gardes, with surrealism, with photographic techniques. , in addition to being a center for the discussion and dissemination of photography. It was in this environment that German Lorca decided to dedicate himself entirely to photography. 

In his first images, the city of São Paulo continued to be his main search. So little photographed in its immensity, much judged in its appearance. Whoever defines her ugly doesn't know her. Whoever defines her as enigmatic feels attracted to her and seeks to somehow understand her. It can be via music, verse, literature, but without a doubt the image pays him the best tribute. Much has been shown, but few times it has been understood. Often defined as stone city, gray city, rain and drizzle. City loved, city hated. But it was in its nooks and crannies that Lorca discovered and rediscovered it. A city he always photographed. 

German Lorca: "São Paulo Crescendo", 1965. Courtesy Utopian Gallery.
“São Paulo Crescendo”, 1965. Courtesy Utopian.

In the early 1950s, he opened his photographic studio, leaving Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante to become a professional advertising photographer. Two years later he was the official photographer of the IV Centenary of the City of São Paulo.

In advertising, he took his sharp, polite and always irreverent look. Realizing the power of banal objects and turning this apparent banality into an image that deserved to be seen. And, just as he did when he walked the streets, he used the advertising image to question his realistic features. She played with the image. He created a doubt, at a time when no one talked about post-production, but even so he disconcerted the viewer's gaze. Aesthetic games, eye games, allusions and quotes. He created and had fun. All this combined with new technical possibilities and the freedom with which he used to work. And so it was with his self-portraits and artistic photographs.

But the city continued to enchant him and, tirelessly, he continued to photograph it. In the late 1990s, he leaves his studio in the hands of his children and returns to his walk. In 2002 he did an essay at Ibirapuera, which he had photographed in 1954 and in 2009 he returned to the city center.

Tireless, he is delighted with post-production, with the power to transform his images on the computer, recreate them and revisit his archive. She discovers the power of color for her artwork. Doing, redoing, reviewing, have always been his mottos. And that's why in 2016, at the age of 94, he decided to go to New York, after MoMA had bought part of his images along with those of other Brazilian modernist photographers, in a moment of rebirth of this aesthetic. There he decided to resume an essay carried out in the 1960s and 1980s, more specifically in Central Park, already thinking about contemporary post-production. His last exhibition took place in 2018 at the Itaú Cultural, in São Paulo, curated by Rubens Fernandes Junior and José Henrique Lorca, his son.

"São Paulo Airport", 1965. Courtesy Utopian Gallery.
“São Paulo Airport”, 1965. Courtesy Utopian.

German Lorca died at age 99 on May 8, the day the New York MoMA opened. sample Photo Clubs: Brazilian Modernist Photography and the Foto-Cine Clube Brandeirante, 1946-1964, of which he is one of the authors. And he left us more than 70 years of photographic experiences, of creative possibilities, of perspectives that are renewed. 


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