Leopoldo Pomes at La Pedrera

The exhibition at La Pedrera is a complete retrospective of the work of the Catalan photographer, Leopoldo Pomés (b. 1931). It traces his professional progression from portrait shots in the 40s, urban scenes in the 50s, and through to his commercial work from the 60s to the present. Pomés has enjoyed a long and varied career as a photographer, marked by his innate sense of style.

The exhibition begins with Pomés’ first photograph, taken in 1947 at the age of 16, of the port of Barcelona. In the late 40s, Pomés met with the artists of the Dau al Set group and photographed them throughout the next 10 years. There are numerous portraits of the artists, including Tapies, Cuixart, and Lluís Maria Riera (1956) which captures the three young friends looking wild-eyed and ecstatic. Pomés gained recognition from his portraits and in 1957 was commissioned by the publisher Carlos Barral to produce a photographic report of Barcelona, the city and its people, and soon after was commissioned to create photographs for a book about bulls by Ernest Hemingway, a project which was canceled when Hemingway committed suicide in 1961.

The next half of the exhibition is devoted to his commercial work, including fashion shoots and advertisements for ladies hosiery, which he started in the 60s. In these elegant and sensual photos we see his increasing fascination with women. What stood out in this period was his series Evolution for Meyba in 1960, where he photographed a girl in an elaborate Marie Antoinette costume as she undressed and changed into a bathing costume. His success increased steadily and in 1961 he founded Studio Pomés with his partner Karin Leiz. Before long he was working for companies like Terry Cognac, Freixenet, and Burberry and making TV adverts as well as magazine publicity. His relationship with Freixenet was perhaps the most enduring, lasting almost 40 years, during which he created their iconic TV advertisements which can be seen in the exhibition.

Pomés’ photographs are distinctively sophisticated and sensual. The exhibition is a magnificent tribute to this very stylish photographer, and what better venue than La Pedrera, a masterpiece of Modernist architecture by Gaudí himself.

leopoldo pomes, flashback