Josep Gaspar

Manresa, 1892 – Barcelona, 1970

grupo autores

One of the most versatile and kaleidoscopic figures that practised in Barcelona during the first decades of the 20th Century. A devotee to travelling, constant learning and experimentation, Gaspar was a reference of his time. He stood out in the world of cinema, a field in which he became one of the most recognised pioneers. As a matter of fact, his own life seems taken out of a film. After the war he tried out his luck in the Americas unsuccessfully and he ended up spending the last years of his live in Barcelona, alone and forgotten, in the most absolute misery.  

At the age of 10, impressed by his first contact with the cinema, he was sure about what he wanted to become when he would grow up. And so he did: a pioneer in the Catalan cinema, active from the beginning of the 20th Century to mid-40es. At the same time, although less known, he had a prolific career as photojournalist.

His photo-journalistic career started in the first decade of the last century when Brangulí hired him occasionally, just like he did with others, until from 1920 and onwards he combined cinema and photography. Between 1920 and 1933 he was the official photographer of the aerodrome Canudas, owned by a good friend of his Josep Canudas, promoter of the civil aviation in Catalonia. Just like he had done beforehand from within the cinema, he became one of the pioneers of aerial photography. Concurrently, he specialised in sports photojournalism, and when La Jornada Deportiva was founded he cooperated with it frequently.

Whether in the football matches, cycling races, swimming or boxing, his cinematographic experience converged with the capacity of always finding a suitable location and the agility to quickly move with the teams from one site to the other. From one photo to the other, Gaspar transformed into the star photojournalist of the weekly magazine. The following year, his snapshots were sold separately as a collectables that the magazine announced in one whole page. In 1924, and until the disappearance of La Jornada Deportiva, he made a duo with Ramon Claret, one of the most important sports photographers of the history of Catalan journalism.

He started out the second half of the decade marrying to Josefina Montiglio, with who he had a child named José, and extending his photo-journalistic task. Amongst the publications of Barcelona his works with the sports magazine Stadium stand out as well as his almost exclusive rights at the magazine Imatges, shared with Gabriel Casas' permission. He was also correspondent for the Madrid based group Prensa Gráfica S.A., and he published in La Esfera, Mundo Gráfico and Crónica until 1932, as well as he did some collaborations with El Heraldo de Madrid.

With the arrival of the Expo in 1929 he teamed up with Josep Maria Sagarra and Pablo Luís Torrents. Amongst the three Gaspar was without a doubt the one who had most experience and it's most likely due to his presence that they were called The Three Wise Men. That same year the Editorial Juventud assigned him to do an aerial photo feature of Barcelona that was later published in book form.

He abandoned Gaspar-Sagarra-Torrents and photojournalism in 1932 in order to dedicate himself intensely to cinema until 1947 when he tried a comeback in sports photography cooperating sporadically in some media. But those were bad times and the death of his wife together with economic scarcity, led him to exile in 1949. He travelled to Montevideo hired by his old partner Torrents, with who he started a film production company although unsuccessfully. In 1955 he moved to Buenos Aires where he started up a photography studio. When it was starting to succeed he got hit by a car and decided to move back to Barcelona.

Without a job he was waiting for the end holding up due to the help of a few friends. He died at the age of 77 in the Hospital Clínic and was buried at Montjuïc, in the absence of family members, and was possibly buried in a mass grave.

Resources: 

Porter Moix, Miquel (1992): Història del cinema a Catalunya (1895-1990). Barcelona. Generalitat de Catalunya. Departament de cultura. (p.284-285) /sobre la carrera cinematogràfica

Rosa Vilella, Maria (1984): "La vida i l'obra de Josep Gaspar i Serra", dins Cinematògraf, Història de la Catalunya cinematogràfica, vol.1. Federació Catalana de Cine clubs, Barcelona.

Acknowledgements: 

Albert Roca Serra, Mª Antonia Malajovich, Carmen Bernand.