Isabel Muñoz (photographer)

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Isabel Muñoz Vilallonga ( Barcelona , 1951 ), known as Isabel Muñoz , is a Spanish photographer . It has been recognized with the National Photography Award of Spain 2016 and with two World Press Photo .


Isabel Muñoz is based in Madrid. She is the eldest daughter of Mogul Julio Muñoz Ramonet. At the age of twenty she moved from Barcelona to Madrid and in 1979 decided to qualify as a photographer by enrolling at the Photocentro school in Madrid. Her reference photographers were Ramón Mourelle and Eduardo Momeñe.

Soon after, she received orders for press and public relations. And also for the cinema, hand in hand with Tote Trenas, which introduces her to the world of film photography. At that time he took pictures of films like Sal Gorda and Penumbra.

To continue her learning process, she moved to New York in 1982. Her obsession was to find suitable support for the reproduction of the skin and continued her studies with Craig Stevens, Robert Steinberg and Neil Silkirk in Maine. she later returned to New York to study large format at the International Center of Photography (ICP).

In 1986 she returned to Madrid and made her first exhibition, Toques, which was exhibited in the French Institute. Between 1990 and 2007 he devoted herself to the world tour with the aim of sharing her emotions. Through dance she works in Cuba, Burkina Fasso, Mali, Egypt, Turkey and with the ballet of Víctor Ullate.

Her work has been shown in PHotoEspaña (1998, 2007, 2010 and 2012) and in institutions around the world, such as the Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, Virginia, USA 1992), the Dansmuseet (Stockholm, 2002) and the Museum of contemporary art Unión Fenosa (La Coruña, 2006), Casa de América (Madrid, 2006), National Photo Gallery of INAH (Pachuca, Mexico, 2008), Canal de Isabel II (Madrid, 2010), Caixa Forum (Barcelona and Madrid), 2010), the Valencian Institute of Modern Art (2011) or the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris, 2014).

She won the World Press Photo Award 1999 (in the Arts and Entertainment category) and 2004 (in the Portraits category), was awarded the Photo Prize of the Autonomous Community of Madrid in 2006 and the 2009 PHotoEspaña Award for Fine Arts 2009.

Her works can be found in collections such as the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris) and the New Museum in New York.

During a trip to Thailand while she  was taking photos after a procession, he suffered an accident: a fall in which she had broken a vertebra. He had to go through the operating table and go through a long recovery process long and hard. The rehabilitation lasted until November 2016 and made her realize how volatile life is.

Artistic trajectory 

In 1986 she made her first exhibition “Toques”, which has been accompanied by many others in different cities of the world for over twenty years.

Her works are in the European House of Photography (MEP) in Paris, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston or in private collections.

In 2016, she received the National Photography Award from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. The jury praised her professional career, in which he combines “social engagement with the pursuit of beauty and deals with issues such as body, rite or cultural diversity”.

It also highlights “the uniqueness of using a traditional technique applied to a contemporary language”. Muñoz explained: “My interest was in human beings, although there are dark areas in people, there is always a part of the light, the human being can not live without hope”.


Her photographs, almost always in black and white, are a human study showing body parts, images of warriors, bullfighters or dancers, using a meticulous process and artisanal development:

All the photographs are large format contacts, made by the artist directly from the negative, using the old platinum process. In this process, the artist must prepare the paper herself applying, as if it were a painting, a platinum solution. Later the negatives, which must have the same size as the final photograph, are placed in direct contact with the prepared paper, to be exposed to light under a large contact press. Once this process is finished, the images are revealed and washed by hand in large trays.
Isabel Muñoz website

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