Joan Fontcuberta

Spain 1955

Conceptual Art, Photography

Joan Fontcuberta
Joan Fontcuberta
April 5, 2015

Joan Fontcuberta is a Spanish artist, self-described as “a conceptual artist using photography”. Through his works Joan examines the truthfulness of photography and investigates into photography’s authority and the human inclination to believe what we see. Contradiction, playfulness, conflict and the possible – all that form the territory on which works are situated.

Fontcuberta’s Background in Communications and Advertising

Joan Fontcuberta was born in 1955 in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. He received a degree in communications from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 1977. He worked in advertising in his early career, following a family tradition. From 1979 to 1986 he was a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Barcelona, after which he earned a living through his art. In 1980 he co-founded the Spanish/English visual arts journal PhotoVision, where he is still Editor in Chief. Since 1993, Fontcuberta has been a professor of audiovisual communication at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
Although he has a missing finger, which he said was due to a home-made bomb blowing up in his hand, and that that makes him a terrible photographer, in 2013 he won the Hasselblad International Award in Photography.

Joan Fontcuberta – The Miracle of Dolphin-Surfing, from Miracles series – 2002

An Artist of Play and Paradox

Flying unicorn monkeys, mermaid fossils, snakes with legs – photography’s master myth-maker Joan Fontcuberta creates a parallel reality where it is impossible to tell where the real ends and the imaginary begins. “Photography is a tool to negotiate our idea of reality. Thus it is the responsibility of photographers to not contribute with anaesthetic images but rather to provide images that shake consciousness”, as the artist himself states. He also states that the propaganda and dictatorship of Spain under Franco in his first 20 years led him to be skeptical about authority, which is reflected in his art.

Herbarium and Fauna – Great Examples of Fontcuberta’s Practice

In his series from 1984 named Herbarium, Fontcuberta arranged inanimate objects such as electrical cord, plastic, a shaving brush or a rubber hose into what appear to be exotic plants, thereby creating ‘pseudoplants’. The black and white still-life photographs of these constructions were drily classified in Latin and thus resembled the photographs of Karl Blossfeldt.
His other series titled Fauna from 1987 is a multidisciplinary work which reveals the archive of Peter Ameisenhaufen – a Professor of Teratology (the study of abnormal development in animals) and mysterious recluse who disappeared in 1955. Fontcuberta and friend Pere Formiguera discovered the archive within a hotel basement in Cape Wrath, and for the exhibition have uprooted a wealth of documentation of the bizarre creatures sent to Ameisenhaufen, including hybrid taxidermies, recordings of animal calls, anatomical drawings and photographic evidence. The work is compelling, and incites the desire to go away and study Professor Ameisenhaufen further; however this is unfortunately not possible, as the scientist is just the first of Fontcuberta’s many invented alter egos.

Joan Fontcuberta – El Gran Guardià del Bé Total – 1989

Joan Foncuberta’s Recent Work – When Reality Becomes an Illusion

In his most recent work, Fontcuberta has worked with reality in foregrounding the reaction, the perception of the viewer – he has photographed real events with the appearance of being traces of something fantastic and hence unreal. There is no manipulation either before or after taking the photograph and yet what is photographed, what is reflected, is not what seems to be fixed in the media. “There are mirrors whose miracle isn’t the truth, but fantasy, illusion” says Fontcuberta.
In order to accomplish this, Joan has photographed the corpses of mosquitoes spattered on a car windscreen during a nocturnal journey, knowing that the viewers would see in such a portrayal the photograph of a starry sky. In another example, he has portrayed desert landscapes, the deserts that emerge from looking at pages printed with the Braille alphabet from very close by.

Collections of Fontcuberta’s artworks

Fontcuberta’s works are held in the permanent collections of many museums, such as Art Institute of Chicago; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; George Eastman House, Rochester; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée National d’Art Moderne / Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Joan Fontcuberta lives and works in Barcelona.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015La Colección TrepatSala Madraza, GranadaSolo
2015SputnikCosmoCaixa, BarcelonaSolo
2015GastropodaLa Fábrica, MadridSolo
2014CamouflagesMaison Européenne de la Photographie, ParisSolo
2014Stranger than FictionScience Museum, LondonSolo
2014Metabolismos de la imagenGaleria de Arte de la Pontifícia Universidad Católica de ChileSolo
2014Metabolismos de la imagenCentro de la Imagen, LimaSolo
2014Collection Trepat.Musée départemental de l'Arles Antique, ArlesSolo
2014Miracles & CoMuseu da Imagem, BragaSolo
2014DeletrixBiblioteca Foral, BilbaoSolo
2014El ojo inocente, el ojo perversoSala de la Diputación de HuescaSolo
2013The Photography of Nature - The Nature of PhotographyHasselblad Centre, Göteborgs KontsmuseumSolo
2013OrogenesisFotografins Hus, EstocolmSolo
2013Obra-ColecciónFundació Foto Colectania, BarcelonaSolo
2013From here onArts Santa Mònica, BarcelonaSolo
201312th International Festival of PhotographyLodz , PolòniaSolo
2013Deletrix - Un projecte de Joan Fontcuberta impulsat pel Pen CatalàArts Santa Mònica, BarcelonaSolo
2012OrogenesisPhoto Edition Berlin, Berlin?Solo
2012DeletrixNathalie Parienté, ParisSolo
2012A través del mirallGranollers, Cornellà,FigueresSolo
2012OrogènesisFundació Forvm, TarragonaSolo
2012HydropithecusLianzhou Photo Festival, ChinaSolo
2012La sirène de SanaryMusée Frédéric Dumas, Sanary-sur-MerSolo
2012Through the looking glassPhotoforum PasquArt, Bienne, SuizaSolo
2012SirenesGalerie Clairefontaine, LuxemburgSolo
2012Joan FontcubertaBuenos Aires Photo, ArgentinaSolo
2011FaunaMuseo Universitario del Chopo, MexicoSolo
2011From here onAtelier de Mécanique, Arles, Les Rencontres D’Arles Solo
2011Frontal Nude i altres paisatgesGaleria Palma Dotze, Vilafranca del PenedèsSolo
2011A través del espejoCentro Cultural Puertas de Castilla, MurciaSolo
2011A través del espejoCasa de la Moneda, BogotáSolo
2010ResiliènciaGalería Mayoral, BarcelonaSolo
2010A través del espejoGalerías Xalapa, MéxicoSolo
2010De NaturaMusée des Beaux-Arts, LilleSolo
2010Landscapes without memoryFoam Fotografiemuseum AmsterdamSolo
2010Miracles et SputnikLa Chartreuse de Villeneuve lez AvignonSolo
2010Manifesto festival d’ImageToulouseSolo
2010Through the looking glassGaleria Àngels BarcelonaSolo
2010A través del mirallACVic, VicSolo
2009Blow up Blow upGaleria Àngels BarcelonaSolo
2009Blow Up Blow UpAtelier de Forges, Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, ArlesSolo
2009DatascapesDjanogly Art Gallery, NottinghamSolo
2009DatascapesUsher Gallery, LincolnSolo
2009GooglegramsGaleria Vanguardia, BilbaoSolo
2009GooglegramsAlbury Regional Gallery, New South Wales, Austràlia Solo
2009GooglegramsPinnacles Gallery, Riverway Arts Centre, Queensland, AustraliaSolo
2009HydropithèqueMusée-Chateau, AnnecySolo
2009Landscapes without MemoryReiss-Eingelhorn Museen, MannheimSolo
2009Santa InocenciaMuseo de Albarracín, AlbarracínSolo
2008Botánica ocultaPhotomuseim, ZarautzSolo
2008De FactoLa Virreina Centre de la Imatge, BarcelonaSolo
2008Deconstructing OsamaFundació la Caixa, LleidaSolo
2008Deconstructing OsamaFundació Octubre, ValènciaSolo
2008Des monstres et des prodigesMusée-Château, AnnecySolo
2008EspejismosMonasterio de San Benito, ValladolidSolo
2008EspejismosUniversidad de SantiagoSolo
2008GooglegramasGalerie Braunbehrens, MunichSolo
2008GooglegramasInstituto Cervantes, NàpolsSolo
2008GooglegramasInstituto Cervantes, PequínSolo
2008GooglegramasPalacete del Embarcadero, SantanderSolo
2008SputnikArtothèque, AnnecySolo
2008SputnikMusée Gassendi, DigneSolo
2008Tierras de nadieCentro Cultural Miguel Castillejo, Jaén Solo
2008Tierras de nadieSalas de Exposiciones Museísticas de Cajasur, CòrdovaSolo
2006Fictions AboundChapter Art Gallery, Cardiff, EnglandGroup
2006AlchemyHarewood House, Yorkshire, EnglandGroup
2006AlchemyPurdy Hicks, London, EnglandGroup
2006La obra maestra desconocidaARTIUM, Vitoria-GasteizGroup
2006A Century of Art from SpainThe Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, New MexicoGroup
2006A Century of Art from SpainSalvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida, USAGroup
2005Sciences – FrictionMusée de l’Hotel-Dieu, Mantes-la Jolie, FranceGroup
2005El tren de la memoriaAntigua Fábrica El Aguila, Madrid, SpainGroup
2005RandonnéeSonar, CCCB, Barcelona, SpainGroup
2005Nouvelles Acquisitions Seine-Saint DenisMusée de l’Air et de l’Espace, Bourget, Paris, FranceGroup
2005Insensé EspagneColette, ParisGroup
2005Nützlich süß museal. Das fotografierte TierMuseum Folkwang, Essen, GermanyGroup
2003El ojo - la cámara y la guitarraAliança Francesa, SabadellSolo
2003El ojo, la cámara y la guitarraMuseo Picasso, MàlagaSolo
2003Imaginary GardensThe Salvador Dalí Museum, Saint Petersburg, FloridaSolo
2003Karelia: Miracles & CoEtelä-Karjalan Taidemuseo, LappenrantaSolo
2003Karelia: Miracles & CoZabriskie Gallery, New YorkSolo
2003La isla de los vascosArtium, VitoriaSolo
2003La isla de los vascosUntzi Museoa - Museo Naval, Sant SebastiàSolo
2003MazzeriBastion de Saint Lorent, CòrsegaSolo
2003OrogénesisGalería Spectrum, ZaragozaSolo
2003OrogénesisGalería T20, MurciaSolo
2003SecuritasChateau de SalsesSolo
2002ConstelacionesTransfoma, VitoriaSolo
2002Karelia: Miracles & CoFundación Telefónica, Madrid Solo
2002OrogénesisGaleria Rrose Selavy, BarcelonaSolo
2002Paysages EncryptésGalerie Nathalie Pariente, ParisSolo
2002Pin ZhuangGalería Vanguardia, BilbaoSolo
2002Pin ZhuangGaleria Xavier Fiol, Palma de MallorcaSolo
2002Scherzi della NaturaFondazione Italiana per la Fotografia, ToríSolo
2002SecuritasGalería Filomena Soares, LisboaSolo
2002SecuritasSala Caballerizas, MurciaSolo
2002SimulisForum Culturel, Blanc-MesnilSolo
2001Contra NaturaMuseo de la Universidad de Alicante, AlacantSolo
2001Contra NaturaPalazzo delle Esposizioni, RomaSolo
2001FaunaDunlop Art Gallery Regina Public Library, ReginaSolo
2001Joan FontcubertaLa Fábrica, MadridSolo
2001Pin ZhuangGaleria Senda, BarcelonaSolo
2001SecuritasCentre d’Art Santa Mònica, BarcelonaSolo
2001SecuritasFundación Telefónica, MadridSolo
2001SemiopolisYeni Tzami, Museum of Archeology, TessalònicaSolo
2001SputnikBell Gallery, List Art Center, ProvidenceSolo
2001Twilight ZonesAdriana Schmidt Galerie, StuttgartSolo
2001Twilight ZonesGalerie 52, AmberesSolo
2000ContravisionesMuseo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, MadridSolo
2000FaunaMusée du Seminaire, SherbrookeSolo
2000FaunaPresentation House Gallery, VancouverSolo
2000FaunaTPW Gallery, TorontoSolo
2000Le jardin des momiesL’Oeil de Poisson, QuebecSolo
2000SemiopolisAdriana Schmidt Galerie, ColòniaSolo
2000SirènesCAIRN, Digne-les-BainsSolo
2000SputnikGalería Tinta Invisible, BarcelonaSolo
2000Twilight ZonesGalería Cesar, LisboaSolo
2000Twilight ZonesMuseu Comarcal Salvador Vilaseca, Reus Solo
2000Twilight ZonesZabriskie Gallery, New YorkSolo
2000Bordes InasiblesCentro Cultural Cajastur Palacio Revillagigedo Gijón, SpainGroup
2000Particle Accelerators: At the Intersection of Photography, Science and TechnologyPhotographic Resource Center Boston, MAGroup
2000ContravisionesSala Millares, Ministerio de Educación and Cultura Madrid, SpainGroup
1999FaunaGalerie Sequence, Chicoutimi Solo
1999FaunaMusée Redpath, MontrealSolo
1999HemogrammesGalerie Occurrence, MontrealSolo
1999HerbariumMusée de l’Elysée, LausanaSolo
1999MicromegasMuseo Internacional Arte Electrónico, CuencaSolo
1999SecuritasGaleria Antoni de Barnola, BarcelonaSolo
1999SputnikMuseu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, BarcelonaSolo
1999SputnikMuseum of Fine Arts, FukuiSolo
1999The Image AfterCamerawork San Francisco, USAGroup
1999Attack - Photography on the EdgeHolland Festival, HollandGroup
1998ConstellationsZabriskie Gallery, New YorkSolo
1998HemogramasGalería Helga de Alvear, MadridSolo
1998L’artiste et la photographieGalerie Vox, MontrealSolo
1998SputnikEdificio Chiado, CoimbraSolo
1998SputnikPlanetario, PamplonaSolo
1998SputnikYonago Photo Festival, YonagoSolo
1998Terrain VagueDeBeyerd, BredaSolo
1998Terrain VagueGraves Art Gallery, SheffieldSolo
1998The Artist and the PhotographSAIC Gallery, ChicagoSolo
1998The Artist and the ArchiveShoredicht Biennale London, EnglandGroup
1998Continental DriftFruitmarket Gallery Edinburgh, EnglandGroup
1997ConstellationsGalerie Adriana Schmidt, Colònia Solo
1997El pintor y la fotografíaCentro Insular de Cultura, Las Palmas de Gran CanariaSolo
1997L’artista i la fotografiaGalería Visor, ValènciaSolo
1997L’artiste et la photographieCentre Jean Savidan, LannionSolo
1997SputnikFundación Arte y Tecnología, MadridSolo
1996El cor d’ÀfricaSala Municipal d’Art, GironaSolo
1996L’artista i la fotografiaGalería Forvm, Tarragona Solo
1996L’artiste et la photographieGalerie Zabriskie, Paris Solo
1996PalimpsestosEspacio Caja de Burgos, BurgosSolo
1996The Painter and the PhotographZabriskie Gallery, New York Solo
1996ZoografiesSala H, VicSolo
1995Esoteerinen KarjalaKeski-Suomen Museo, JÿvaskÿlaSolo
1995L’artista e la fotografiaForo Boario, MòdenaSolo
1995Moby DickTinglado II, TarragonaSolo
1995Wundergarten der NaturMuseum Rupertinum, SalzburgSolo
1994ConstelacionesCentro Internacional de Arte, GijónSolo
1994ConstellacionsSala El Roser, LleidaSolo
1994Faune secrèteEspace Peiresc, ToulonSolo
1994La forja de VulcanoMuseo de Bellas Artes, BilbaoSolo
1994PalimpsestsBellas Artes Gallery, Santa FeSolo
1994PalimpsestsMusée de CahorsSolo
1993Anatomy – BotanyLothar Albrecht Gallery, FrankfurtSolo
1993ConstellacionsGaleria Antoni Estrany, BarcelonaSolo
1993Recent WorksGalería Pedro Oliveira, Oporto Solo
1993Shadowing PaintingZabriskie Gallery, Paris and New York. Solo
1992FaunaParco Gallery, TòquioSolo
1992FaunaThe Friends of Photography, San Francisco Solo
1992Historia artificialIVAM, ValènciaSolo
1992Madonna Inn MajesticGaleria Àngels de la Mota, BarcelonaSolo
1992Recent WorksGalería Juana Mordó, MadridSolo
1991Recent WorksLieberman & Saul Gallery, New YorkSolo
1991Recent WorksLothar Albrecht Galerie, FrankfurtSolo
1991Recent WorksZabriskie Gallery, Paris and New YorkSolo
1990El jardí de les delíciesCentre d’Art Santa Mònica, BarcelonaSolo
1990FaunaMuseet for Fotokunst, OdenseSolo
1990Paper GardensThe Art Institute, ChicagoSolo
1990Recent WorksMusée Cantini, MarsellaSolo
1990Recent WorksZeit Foto Co, TòquioSolo
1989FaunaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo, SevillaSolo
1989FaunaMuseum für Photographie, BraunschweigSolo
1989FaunaPerspektief Galerie, RòterdamSolo
1989FrottogramsGalería Juana Mordó, MadridSolo
1988FaunaGalerie Jütta Robner, StuttgartSolo
1988FaunaThe Museum of Modern Art, New YorkSolo
1988FaunaThe Photographer’s Gallery, LondonSolo
1988FaunaVisual Arts Center, MIT, CambridgeSolo
1988FrottogramsZabriskie Gallery, New YorkSolo
1987FaunaFolkwang Museum, EssenSolo
1987Science & FictionCentro de Arte Palacio Almudí, MurciaSolo
1987Science & FictionGalería Roma e Pavia, OportoSolo
1986Animal-trouvéMuseo de Bellas Artes, BilbaoSolo
1986HerbariumPresentation House Gallery, VancouverSolo
1986HerbariumZabriskie Gallery, New YorkSolo
1985HerbariumGalería Redor, MadridSolo
1985HerbariumGalleria Franz Palludetto, TorinoSolo
1985HerbariumHochschule der Künste, BerlinSolo
1985HerbariumShadai Gallery, TokioSolo
1985HerbariumThe George Eastman House, Rochester, New YorkSolo
1984HerbariumGalerie Contretype, BrussellesSolo
1984HerbariumMusei Comunali, RíminiSolo
1984HerbariumMuseu d’Art, SabadellSolo
1984Recent WorksFotoforum, BremenSolo
1983Joan FontcubertaGalerie Junod, LausanaSolo
1983Joan FontcubertaGalerie Municipale du Chateau d’Eau, ToulouseSolo
1983Joan FontcubertaGalerie Prophoto, NúrembergSolo
1983Joan FontcubertaGalerie Zabriskie, ParisSolo
1982Joan FontcubertaForum Stadtpark, GrazSolo
1982Joan FontcubertaGalleria Il Diaframma, MilàSolo
1982Joan FontcubertaGalleria Rondanini, RomaSolo
1981Joan FontcubertaGaleria 491, BarcelonaSolo
1981Joan FontcubertaGalería Forvm, TarragonaSolo
1981Joan FontcubertaGalerie Novum, HannoverSolo
1981Joan FontcubertaRudi Renner Galerie, MunichSolo
1980Joan FontcubertaPaule Pia Fotogalerij, AmberesSolo
1980Joan FontcubertaThe Photographic Center of Athens, AtenesSolo
1980Joan FontcubertaThe White Gallery, Tel AvivSolo
1979Joan FontcubertaGalerie Agathe Gaillard, ParisSolo
1979Joan FontcubertaGalerie Trockenpresse, BerlínSolo
1979Joan FontcubertaWork Gallery, ZúrichSolo
1978Joan FontcubertaGalería Fotomanía, BarcelonaSolo
1978Joan FontcubertaGalerie Voir, ToulouseSolo
1977Joan FontcubertaCanon Photo Gallery, ÁmsterdamSolo
1977Joan FontcubertaGalería Tretze, ValènciaSolo
1977Joan FontcubertaGalerie Upsilon, NantesSolo
1976Joan FontcubertaGaleria Spectrum, BarcelonaSolo
1975Joan FontcubertaLa Photogalería, MadridSolo
1974Joan FontcubertaSala Aixelà, BarcelonaSolo