In 1936, La Pedrera was sequestered by the PSUC (United Socialist Party of Catalonia) and used as the headquarters of the Catalan Ministry of Economy and Agriculture and the private residence of Joan Comorera, the party’s secretary general and minister of economy during much of the civil war.
Photographer: Rossend Torras Mir (Barcelona, 1907-1996)
The Rossend Torras archive holds some 25,000 negatives, one third of them stereoscopic slides (a 3D photographic method that was very popular in the early 20th century), and a hundred films. The archive documents daily life in Barcelona and holidaymaking on the Costa Brava, sports events, theatre and key political events spanning the period 1926 to the mid ‘50s.
The dual condition of being both a professional and amateur photographer explains the quality of Torras’ material as well as the fact that it has remained unpublished until now. From the mid ‘20s Torras ran the family business Casa Torras, with shops at number 83 carrer Gran de Gràcia in Barcelona and in Plaça Sant Jaume. Casa Torras was given over to the sale and import of photographic material, optics, whereas his Tomir brand, manufactured door bells, photographic laboratory instruments and radios. The availability of material, the photographer’s technical expertise and the space to keep an archive were therefore guaranteed.
Until 1939, however, his activity as a photographer was limited to the characteristics of the great 20th century amateurs. In 1926, at the age of nineteen, Torras joined the pioneering Photographic Association of Catalonia, where he repeatedly won its annual competitions, in the category of stereoscopic photography and autochrome (an early colour photography process). In 1931 he enrolled in the photographic and cinematic categories of the Excursionist Centre of Catalonia. However, in 1939 Torras obtained the accreditation of professional photograph and thereafter combined his commercial work with commissions for Radio Barcelona (only a few of these photos were published in the printed press) and portraiture of actresses of the Barcelona scene.