Austria 1902 – Australia 1985
No title [Woman in apron, Barrio Chino, Barcelona]
Collection Title: (Types from the Barrio Chino)
Place made: Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph (semi-glossy paper)
After being arrested by the Gestapo in separate incidents Margaret and Rudolf Michaelis fled to Barcelona in December 1933. Many of their friends had already settled there because of the strength of the anarcho-syndicalist movement and the hopes for a people’s revolution.
Margaret Michaelis established her own photographic studio and went on to produce some of her finest work for a group of progressive Spanish architects known as the GATCPAC (Group of Catalan Architects and Technicians for the Progress of Contemporary Architecture). She documented the conditions in an area of Barcelona known as the Barrio Chino (old Chinatown), which the architects hoped to transform through an ambitious building program. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War brought an end to their plans.
Michaelis’s photographs were frequently published in leading Catalan journals and played a crucial role in the imaging of Barcelona’s modernity. On a more personal level Margaret Michaelis was captivated by Spain, revelling in what she later described as its uninhibited peasantry, colourful festivals and half-pagan rituals.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra