Joan Fontcuberta was born in February 24, 1955, in Barcelona, where he lives and works. He studied Communications at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (1972-77) and later worked in advertising, journalism and as a university professor in Fine Arts. Since 1974, he has devoted himself to the visual arts, developing his creative work together with a wide range of criticism, theoretical, curatorial and lecturing activity.
In 1980, he co-founded and was editor of Photovision, an international publication devoted to photography and visual arts. He is also a founder member of the Department of Photography in the Barcelona Faculty of Fine Arts in 1980 and of the “Photography Springtime”, a biennial event since 1982. He has curated several exhibitions dealing with aspects of contemporary photography and with the history of Spanish photography as well (notably, “Idas & Chaos. Trends in Spanish Photography 1920-1945” and “Creative Photography in Spain 1968-88”) .
In 1986, he quit his university professorship (1979-1986) to devote himself completely to creative projects, personal work and theoretical writing. In 1990, he was visiting artist and professor at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. After that, in 1993, he started regular teaching again as associate professor at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, where he teaches in the Faculty of Audiovisual Communication. Also, he has been visiting professor at the School of Art and Design de Vevey (Switzerland), at the Department of Visual & Environmental Studies, Harvard University de Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, at the School of Art, Media & Design, University of Wales, Newport, and at Le Fresnoy. Centre National des Arts Contemporains in Turcoing (France).
Both his artistic and theoretical activity focus on issues of representation, knowledge, memory, science, truthfulness, ambiguity and trompe-l’œil, exploring the documentary and the narrative in photographic images and related media. Among the books containing his work several have been internationally awarded: Herbarium (1985), Fauna (1988), Sputnik (1997). Recent publications, like “Landscapes without Memory” (2005), “Through the Looking Glass” (2010), “Pandora’s Camera” (2010) or “La furia de las imágenes. Nota sobre la postfotografía” (2016) explore intersections of photography and digital imaging. To sum up, he has authored or edited a dozen of books on aspects of the history, aesthetics and pedagogy of photography.
In 1988, Joan Fontcuberta received the David Octavious Hill medal, bestowed by Fotografisches Akademie GDL in Germany in recognition of his career in photography. In 1994, he was appointed Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture. Later, in 1998, he was awarded the National Prize in Photography bestowed by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. In 2011 received the National Prize in Visual Arts, bestowed by the Catalan Government and the National Prize of Theoretical Essay, by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Two years after, he received the Hasselblad Award international prize.
In 1996 he was Artistic Director of the International Photography Festival in Arles. In 2011 he co-curated for the same festival the large exhibition “From Here On”, about the impact of digital vernacular, the Internet and social networks on photo and video-based art and culture.
Spanish public channel TV3 produced a documentary on his work, “F for Fontcuberta” (aired in 2005) and a fiction film, “False truth” (aired in 2007). Additionally, channel TVE commissioned him for his first authored film “She was Russian and was called Laika” (2009).