Archive for January 10th, 2013

10
Jan
13

Exhibition: ‘Manuel Álvarez Bravo. A Photographer on the Watch (1902-2002)’ at Jue de Paume, Paris

Exhibition dates: 16th October 2012 – 20th January 2013

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What a dazzling, sensual (sur)realist Manuel Álvarez Bravo was, one of my favourite photographers of all time. What an eye, what an artist! The beauty of some of his images simply takes my breath away – such as The daughter of the dancers (La hija de los danzantes / La Fille des danseurs) (1933, below). Álvarez Bravo was one of a triumvirate of photgraphers that greatly influenced me when I started to study photography, along with Eugene Atget and Minor White. I feel a special affinity to him as we share the same initials.

The posting also includes two colour photographs, the first I have ever seen of Manuel Álvarez Bravo. Unfortunately the quality of some of the media photographs was again incredibly poor and I had to spend an inordinate amount of time repairing damage to the scans in order to bring them to you in this posting. Enjoy.

PS. Please see my posting Photography in Mexico: Selected Works from the Collections of SFMOMA and Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser for a discussion of Manuel Álvarez Bravo and contemporary Mexican photography.

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Many thankx to the Jue de Paume, Paris for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Waves of paper (Ondas de papel / Vagues de papier)' c. 1928

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Waves of paper (Ondas de papel / Vagues de papier)
c. 1928
Épreuve gélatino-argentique tardive (vintage silver gelatin photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. Concrete triptych 2 / La Tolteca (Tri'ptico cemento-2 / La Tolteca / Triptyque béton-2 / La Tolteca)' 1929

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Concrete triptych 2 / La Tolteca (Tri’ptico cemento-2 / La Tolteca. Triptyque béton-2 / La Tolteca)
1929
Épreuve gélatino-argentique d’époque
Collection Familia González Rendón
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Bicycle Heaven (Bicicleta al cielo / Bicyclette au ciel)' 1931

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Bicycle Heaven (Bicicleta al cielo / Bicyclette au ciel)
1931
Épreuve gélatino-argentique moderne (modern silver gelatin photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Striking Worker, Assassinated (Obrero en huelga, asesinado / Ouvrier en grève, assassiné)' 1934

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Striking Worker, Assassinated (Obrero en huelga, asesinado / Ouvrier en grève, assassiné)
1934
Épreuve gélatino-argentique tardive (vintage silver gelatin photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'The Good Reputation Sleeping (La buena fama durmiendo / La Bonne Renommée endormie)' 1938

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
The Good Reputation Sleeping (La buena fama durmiendo / La Bonne Renommée endormie)
1938
Épreuve gélatino-argentique tardive (vintage silver gelatin photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Current, Texcoco (Corriente, Texcoco / Courant, Texcoco)' 1974-1975

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Current, Texcoco (Corriente, Texcoco / Courant, Texcoco)
1974-1975
Épreuve chromogénique d’époque
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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ABravo_18-WEB

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
The Colour (El color / La Couleur)
1966
Épreuve chromogénique d’époque
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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“Getting away from the stereotypes about exotic Surrealism and the folkloric vision of Mexican culture, this exhibition of work by Manuel Álvarez Bravo at Jeu de Paume offers a boldly contemporary view of this Mexican photographer.

The photographic work done by Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Mexico City, 1902-2002) over his eight decades of activity represent an essential contribution to Mexican culture in the 20th century. His strange and fascinating images have often been seen as the product of an exotic imagination or an eccentric version of the Surrealist avant-garde. This exhibition will go beyond such readings. While not denying the links with Surrealism and the clichés relating to Mexican culture, the selection of 150 photographs is designed to bring out a specific set of iconographic themes running through Álvarez Bravo’s practice: reflections and trompe-l’œil effects in the big city; prone bodies reduced to simple masses; volumes of fabric affording glimpses of bodies; minimalist, geometrically harmonious settings; ambiguous objects, etc.

The exhibition thus takes a fresh look at the work, without reducing it to a set of emblematic images and the stereotyped interpretations that go with them. This approach brings out little-known aspects of his art that turn out to be remarkably topical and immediate. Images become symbols, words turn into images, objects act as signs and reflections become objects: these recurring phenomena are like visual syllables repeated all through his œuvre, from the late 1920s to the early 1980s. They give his images a structure and intentional quality that goes well beyond the fortuitous encounter with the raw magical realism of the Mexican scene. Indeed, Álvarez Bravo’s work constitutes an autonomous and coherent poetic discourse in its own right, one that he patiently built up over the years. For it is indeed time that bestows unity on the imaginary fabric of Álvarez Bravo’s photographs. Behind these disturbing and poetic images, which are like hieroglyphs, there is a cinematic intention which explains their formal quality and also their sequential nature. Arguably, Álvarez Bravo’s photographs could be viewed as images from a film. The exhibition explores this hypothesis by juxtaposing some of his most famous pictures with short experimental films made in the 1960s, taken from the family archives. The show also features some late, highly cinematic images, and a selection of colour prints and Polaroids. By revealing the photographer’s experiments, this presentation shows how the poetic quality of Álvarez Bravo’s images is grounded in a constant concern with modernity and language. Subject to semantic ambiguity, but underpinned by a strong visual syntax, his photography is a unique synthesis of Mexican localism and the modernist project, and shows how modernism was a multifaceted phenomenon, constructed around a plurality of visions, poetics and cultural backgrounds, and not built on one central practice.”

Press release from the Jue de Paume website

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'The daughter of the dancers (La hija de los danzantes / La Fille des danseurs)' 1933

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
The daughter of the dancers (La hija de los danzantes / La Fille des danseurs)
1933
Épreuve au platine-palladium tardive (vintage platinum / palladium photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Hair on Patterned Floor (Mechón / Mèche)' 1940

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Hair on Patterned Floor (Mechón / Mèche)
1940
Épreuve gélatino-argentique moderne (modern silver gelatin photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s photograph of a long lock of wavy hair lying on a geometrically patterned floor juxtaposes texture and materials, dreams and taboos, and invokes questions about the drama taking place outside the photograph. Was this hair placed on the floor intentionally, or did it fall accidentally? The natural presumption is that the hair belonged to a woman, but could it have belonged to a man? Stripped of a luxurious mane, so symbolic of power and passion, is its one-time “owner” now weak and indifferent? This complex image has led one writer to assert that “in theme and form, the photograph is divided between the hint of seduction and that of punishment.”

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Ways to Sleep (De las maneras de dormir / Des manières de dormir)' c. 1940

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo 
Ways to Sleep (De las maneras de dormir / Des manières de dormir)
c. 1940
Épreuve gélatino-argentique moderne (modern silver gelatin photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Unpleasant portrait (Retrato desagradable / Portrait désagréable)' 1945

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Unpleasant portrait (Retrato desagradable / Portrait désagréable)
1945
Épreuve gélatino-argentique tardive (vintage silver gelatin photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Lovers of the false moon (Los novios de la falsa luna / Les Amoureux de la fausse lune)' 1967

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Lovers of the false moon (Los novios de la falsa luna / Les Amoureux de la fausse lune)
1967
Épreuve gélatino-argentique tardive (vintage silver gelatin photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Maniquí tapado (Mannequin couvert)' 1931

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Covered Mannequin (Maniquí tapado / Mannequin couvert)
1931
Épreuve au platine-palladium tardive (vintage platinum palladium photograph)
Collection Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.
© Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, s.c.

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Jeu de Paume
1, Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris
métro Concorde
T: 01 47 03 12 50

Opening hours:
Tuesday: 12.00 – 21.00
Wednesday – Friday: 12.00 – 19.00
Saturday and Sunday: 10.00 – 19.00
Closed Monday

Jeu de Paume website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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