Josep Maria Sagarra

Sarrià, 1885 – Barcelona, 1959

grupo autores

A hard-working, elegant and seductive man, he held an important place in the graphic scene of Barcelona during the 20es and 30es. His professional life -more than 40 years in practise- is one of the largest and most prolific amongst the photo-journalists of his times. From the so-called Tragic Week (1909) to the Civil War his camera was a privileged testimony, always in the street, of the main historical events that marked the day-to-day of the city.

Child of an upper class Catalan family, Sagarra was educated in the Gaumont house in Paris and his career became established after the exceptional graphic coverage of the Sucesos de Julio in 1909. In the beginning he published photos in La Actualidad, La Il·lustració Catalana, the sports magazine Stadium as well as other headlines linked with the higher classes of the city; and later on, during the decades of the 1920es and 1930es, he was amongst the main photographers of Diario de Barcelona and La Vanguardia. He was one of the founders of the Agrupació de Reporters Gràfics de Barcelona in 1921.

In 1924 he married to Anna Torrents and the couple had four children: Estela, Javier (who died soon after being born), Gaudenci and Anna Maria.

During the 1929 Expo his studio in Vía Laietana 54 served as the headquarters for the partnership Gaspar-Sagarra-Torrents, one of the most important professional teams in the history of the Catalan photo-journalism, also known as The Three Wise Men. From 1930 to 1933 he was handed in the correspondent of one the most recognised French weekly graphic magazines, Le Miroir du Monde (1930-1937), at the same time as he collaborated with the Crónica Gráfica, implemented by the Archivo Histórico de la Ciudad during the republican period.

Always in close connection to the powerful circles of society, Sagarra accompanied with his camera in hands the different presidents in their travellings around the Catalan geography: with the king Alfonso XIII and Primo de Rivera during the dictatorship, and afterwards, at the times of the 2nd Republic, with the presidents Francesc Macià and Lluís Companys.

During the war, as long as his health allowed him to, he took part in the consortium of Republican photographers and he was one of the official graphic reporters of the Generalitat de Catalunya. Nonetheless, in 1937, he was forced to hospitalise due to tuberculosis which thus put an end to his photo-journalistic career. During the conflict a fascist air raid partially destroyed his valuable archive in Via Laietana.

Sagarra was sanctioned after the war and his journalist licence was confiscated, but he kept clear of greater reprisals. During the last years of his life he worked taking photos of the upper class events of the society of Barcelona linked to the Club de Polo. He died at his home at an age of 74 years.


Estela Sagarra, Anna María Sagarra, Teresa Grandas.