The Telegraph : The 7 best things at Arles Photography Festival
Lucy Davies selects the highlights of this year’s Rencontres d’Arles
The Trepat Collection: a study in avant-garde photography
Musée départemental de l’Arles Antique, 10am-6pm, 9 €
Josep Trepat Galceran founded his ironmongery business in Tarrega, Catalonia, in 1907 and grew to become the leading producer of agricultural machinery in Spain. From the Thirties to the Sixties, his factory, known locally as ‘Cal Trepat’, produced user-friendly reapers, bailers, threshers, pales and pulleys that lightened the load of farmers throughout Europe.
A cultivated man, Trepat hit on the idea of using avant-garde, modernist photographers to produce his advertising and marketing material. Among the 4,500 prints in his archive are works by masters of the medium such as Walker Evans, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Alexander Rodchenko and Charles Sheeler, making the Trepat collection a wonderful window onto an era roiling with movements such as cubism, surrealism and social realism.
This year, to celebrate the centenary of their first factory, the Trepat company hired artist Joan Fontcuberta to rummage in their archives and produce this bite-sized show. It’s a little off the beaten track, at the Musée de l’Arles Antique which is unfortunately sited under an unprepossessing stretch of autoroute, but don’t that let put you off.
It seems incredible that such a collection has remain unknown and untapped for so many years, but those of you familiar with Fontcuberta’s impish approach to storytelling will know that there’s a reason why. I won’t reveal the twist to the story; save to say it’s all the more brilliant for it.