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Margaret Watkins by Frances Bode. Joseph Mulholland Collection. 
Margaret Watkins by Frances Bode. Photo: Joseph Mulholland Collection. 

PhotoESPAÑA honors Margaret Watkins, the pioneer of advertising photography

The latest edition of PHotoESPAÑA in Madrid, takes a look back at the work of the Canadian pioneer of advertising photography, Margaret Watkins.

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Margaret Watkins was a Canadian photographer who helped forge the history of photography in the early 20th century with her unique contributions. On June 15, PHotoESPAÑA and CentroCentro presented the exhibition Black Light, a show that vindicates the work of Watkins and delves into the relationship between her work and her biography.

Watkins was always a rebellious woman: she rejected tradition and the gender roles assigned to women.

During the opening of the exhibition, the delegate of Culture, Tourism and Sport, Andrea Levy, said that "it is good news that PHotoESPAÑA returns to Madrid's agenda on the usual date, in June. This confirms the full recovery of the cultural offer of this city that, with the effort of all, has been able to maintain the pulse of the activity in a rigorous exercise of courage and above all, of responsibility that has been recognized as the 'miracle of Madrid' inside and outside the country."

The exhibition covers five fundamental periods of Watkins' work. The first part of the exhibition deals with the genesis of his work, from her studies to her work and awareness of the professional and creative possibilities that photography offered her.

The second section includes her portraits, when Watkins adopts the foundations of the visual language and aesthetic precepts that she would later develop.

The third part delves into Watkins' beginnings as an independent photographer in New York between 1915 and 1928. The fourth section presents her work in Europe, where she moved in 1928. Finally, the fifth section of the exhibition gathers her photomontages between 1930 and 1937, when she retakes images from her archive, introduces them into another aesthetic plot, and composes this type of work. 

This is a retrospective of Watkins' work through 150 photographs taken between 1914 and 1939, including portraits and landscapes, modern stills, street scenes, advertising work and commercial designs.

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