About photobooks – old and new.
Title: Poeta en Nueva York
Authors: Oriol Maspons and Julio Ubina (photographs); Federico Garcia Lorca (poems)
Published in 1966 by Lumen in Barcelona, 1stedition
Hardcover, photographically illustrated without dust jacket, 4to, pp. 124 (49 photographs)
“Poeta en Nueva York” is originally a body of poems composed during a travel of Federico Garcia Lorca to New York in the years 1929/1930. Lorca’s poems are surrealistic in style, imbued by a state of melancholy he experienced while in New York. During his stay, the stock market had crashed in October 1929, an event that profoundly affected his vision of the city and shaped his critical perspective of an inhuman capitalist system. Ultimately, the poems were published in 1940, after Lorca’s death, in Mexico and the US.
In 1966, the Lumen publishing house prepared a new edition of Lorca’s poems, adding one previously unpublished text and complementing the poems with photographs. The text was a lecture Lorca gave when he was back from New York, which some consider an explanation of the context for his New York poems. As Lorca said: this is not really a poet in New York, but rather New York in one poet.
On the photography side, the publisher sent Maspons and Ubina to New York City to document it and provide images that could accompany the poems. In fact, this seems to have been Lorca’s original idea. Lorca had suggested his publisher in 1936 to illustrate his modern poems with photographs, which he perceived as the best complement to surrealistic poetry, given their intrinsic descriptive quality.
Maspons and Ubina decided to take two types of photos: a first group of photos purely document many of the places mentioned in Lorca’s poems, while a second group are more an illustration of their own interpretation of the poems. The images are dark and often with little human presence. Instead of an objective approach, the photographers transmit a sense of anguish and solitude, a perspective emanating from Lorca’s poems.