In this third issue of Paris Photo online, we present the work of Palmira Puig-Giró (Tàrrega, 1912 – Barcelona, 1978), an avant-garde photographer exiled in Brazil, whose work remained unknown until RocioSantaCruz discovered it in 2018. Palmira Puig-Giró was, along with Marcel Giró, Rubens Teixeira Scavone and Germán Lorca, among others, a member of the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante, one of the most important artistic movements in Brazilian photography.
Since RocioSantaCruz presented her for the first time in Europe at Paris Photo 2018, Puig-Giró’s work has been included in important international collections. The MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, New York) will feature her photographs in the exhibition Photoclubism: Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946-1964 in March 2021.
A rediscovered signature
For decades, Palmira Puig-Giró was known as her husband’s muse, photographer Marcel Giró. It was not until 2018 that Rocío Santa Cruz, going through the Giró estate with the help of Toni Ricart, Marcel’s nephew, found two photographic languages, two different, albeit intimately intertwined, authorships which coexisted in the photographer’s archives. Following the traces of this unknown signature, they came to an important conclusion: not only was Palmira the author of a significant oeuvre, but Marcel’s own authorship acquired, thus, a new meaning. The tale of the artist and his muse became obsolete and gave way to a more complex, horizontal, and richer narrative. Both artists shared camera, film, stages; each with their own look.
The faces of the avant-garde
Palmira Puig-Giró was, along with Gertrudes Altschul, Menha S. Polacow, Barbara Mors and Dulce G. Carneiro, one of the few women who were part of the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante, a collective of avant-garde photographers located in São Paulo. Her work articulates an experimental corpus of portraits and landscapes, where metaphor and social criticism are framed in the same capture. Puig-Giró’s photography is clearly influenced by the avant-garde, seen in her use of black and white contrasts, but her signature has a more humanistic touch than that of her Paulist colleagues. While the latter tended to sublimate the abstract, the pure moment of visual interruption, Puig-Giró goes beyond the instant and the object. The photographer widens her vision to show the surroundings of her photographs, the faces, stories and memories of the places she visits with her camera, and takes everyday life and gestures to an aesthetic level that is as detailed as it is poetic.