The City Lives / Living the City

Photographers specialized in city sights, monuments and architecture, have extensively documented the changing face of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 1850s, for instance, Leopoldo, Giuseppe and Romualdo Alinari rapidly achieved national and international renown with their pictures of Italian cityscapes and historical monuments. These sights were showcased to an international public in exhibitions and at prestigious events – such as the Paris Exposition of 1855, where the Alinari’s home-town of Firenze, or Siena, Pisa and other important Italian cities stole the limelight in images of great detail and quality.

Decades later, Catalan photographer Valentí Fargnoli lannetta did the same for the Girona region: moving from town to town by bicycle, he initially made his living selling photographic postcards of city sights. From the 1930s onwards, he was instructed by the city of Girona to document ongoing construction work in the city, and to make a complete photographic inventory of historical houses in the province.

While in some photographic oeuvres the city took the center of attention, in many others it served as a décor to portray a wide range of professional, social and leisurely activities, together with their colorful practitioners. Focusing on people living the city life, these pictures show from a di erent angle how European cities have been ‘living’, evolving according to the needs and new directions taken by their inhabitants.

The human protagonists of these images, however, seem undisturbed by the ever-changing scenery: walking the freshly laid-out roads to the bar-of-the-day, passing by newly-built houses alongside traditional markets, visiting perfectly groomed parks, enjoying the sports and spectacles brought about by the modern age, or taking in astonishing panoramas from a well-located look-out, they breathe every ‘now’ of their city’s life to the full.


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