Posts Tagged ‘Mexican artist

07
Jun
15

Exhibition: ‘Nature/Revelation’ at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 31st March 2015 – 5th July 2015

Curator: Joanna Bosse

 

This is a fascinating exhibition at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, one of the best exhibitions I have seen this year in Melbourne. Unlike the disappointing exhibition Earth Matters: contemporary photographers in the landscape at the Monash Gallery of Art this exhibition, which addresses roughly the same subject matter (climate change and its devastating impact on the earth’s many ecosystems; contemporary notions of nature and the sublime) is nuanced and fresh, celebrating “the unique capacity art has to cut through prevailing rhetoric to stimulate individuals both intellectually and emotionally in the face of current environmental issues.”

Every piece of art in this exhibition is emotionally, intellectually and aesthetically challenging. There is no “dead wood” here. As the press release states, “Nature/Revelation features international and Australian artists who are engaged with poetic and philosophical concerns, and whose work offers potentially enlightening experiences that energise our relationship to the natural world.” And it is true!

I spent over two hours on a couple of visits to this exhibition and came away feeling en/lightened in mind and body. From the formal beauty of Ansel Adams classical black and white photographs to the mesmerising, eternal video Boulder Hand (2012) by Gabriel Orozco; from the delightful misdirection of Mel O’Callaghan’s Moons to the liminal habitats of Jamie North; and from the constructed clouds of Berndnaut Smilde to the best piece in the exhibition, Jonathan Delafield Cook’s Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) (2013, below) – every piece deserved its place in this exhibition. I would go as far as to say that Delafield Cook’s Sperm whale is the best piece of art that I have seen since Mark Hilton’s dontworry (2013) which featured in the Melbourne Now exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. The sheer scale and beauty of the work (with its graphite on canvas attention to detail) and that doleful eye staring out at the viewer, is both empowering and unnerving. It deserves to be in an important collection.

While nature and the world we live in offers moments of revelation, so did the art in this exhibition. The art possesses moment of wonder for the viewer. Kudos to curator Joanna Bosse and The Ian Potter Museum of Art for putting on a top notch show.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the The Ian Potter Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Ansel Adams. 'Clearing winter storm, Yosemite National Park, California' 1935 

 

Ansel Adams 
Clearing winter storm, Yosemite National Park, California 
1935
Gelatin silver photograph
56 x 71 cm framed
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 1980
© 2015 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Nature/Revelation at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne showing work by Ansel Adams

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Nature/Revelation at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne showing work by Ansel Adams (right) and detail of Jonathan Delafield Cook’s Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) (left)

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Nature/Revelation at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne showing work Jonathan Delafield Cook’s Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), 2013

 

Jonathan Delafield Cook. 'Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)' (detail) 2013

 

Jonathan Delafield Cook 
Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) (detail)
2013
Graphite on canvas
6 panels: 245 x 1200 cm overall
Courtesy the artist and Olsen/Irwin Gallery, Sydney

 

 

Jonathan Delafield Cook’s life size drawing of a Sperm Whale specimen possesses a haunting melancholy… [He] creates an encounter that recalls those between Ahab and Moby Dick immortalised in Hermann Melville’s famous novel. Being face-to-face, eye-to-eye with this majestic sentient being – distinguished for having the largest brain of any creature known to have lived on the Earth – is an awe-inspiring experience. The overwhelming enormity of scale and the panorama-like expanse of the whale’s skin rouse an acute awareness of our own small presence in the room (in the world).

Delafield Cook’s work belongs to the naturalist tradition, and his detailed charcoal drawing intensifies the physical qualities of the subject in a way that renders it both a forensic study and an otherworldly fantasy. The personal history of this sleek leviathan is writ large, like graffiti, on its skin: the abrasions, the exfoliations, scars and its ragged tail tell of unknown adventures in an environment that lies beyond our own experience, but one not exempt from degradation or environmental change.

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Nature/Revelation at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne showing work by Ansel Adams (right)

 

 

Gabriel Orozco (born April 27, 1962, Mexico)
Boulder Hand
2012
Video 54 seconds
Courtesy of the artist

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Nature/Revelation at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne showing Mel O’Callaghan’s Moons (left) and the video Boulder Hand (2012) by Gabriel Orozco (right)

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Nature/Revelation at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne showing Mel O’Callaghan’s Moons

 

Mel O'Callaghan. 'Moons (II)' 2014

 

Mel O’Callaghan 
Moons (II)
2014
pigmented inkjet print
100 x 100 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Allen, Paris, and Galeria Belo Galsterer, Lisbon

 

 

“Climate change and its devastating impact on the earth’s many ecosystems is arguably today’s most critical global issue. Nature/Revelation celebrates the unique capacity art has to cut through prevailing rhetoric to stimulate individuals both intellectually and emotionally in the face of current environmental issues. Focusing on contemporary notions of nature and the sublime, the exhibition affirms that the world we live in offers moments of revelation, and that nature can provoke a range of associations – both fantastical and grounded – that profoundly affect us.

Nature/Revelation features international and Australian artists who are engaged with poetic and philosophical concerns, and whose work offers potentially enlightening experiences that energise our relationship to the natural world. Artists include Ansel Adams, Jonathan Delafield Cook, David Haines, Andrew Hazewinkel and Susan Jacobs, Jamie North, Mel O’Callaghan, Gabriel Orozco and Berndnaut Smilde. The exhibition also raises questions about concepts of nature and culture following the arguments of philosopher Timothy Morton.

This exhibition forms a key component of the ‘Art+climate=change’ festival presented by Climarte: arts for a safer climate. This festival of climate change related arts and ideas includes curated exhibitions at a number of museums and galleries alongside a series of keynote lectures and forums featuring local and international speakers.

The University of Melbourne, with the Potter as project leader, is the Principal Knowledge Partner of the Climarte program.”

Text from The Ian Potter Museum of Art website

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Nature/Revelation at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne showing David Haines’ Day & Night (right) and Jamie North’s Portal II and Slag bowl I & II (left)

 

 

David Haines (born 1966 London, lives Blue Mountains, New South Wales)
Day & Night
2005-2015
Two channel video projection
Courtesy of the artist and Sarah Cotter Gallery, Sydney

 

 

Throughout his practice – which comprises investigations into the elemental in carious media – David Haines explores sensation in both seen and unseen forms. He has a particular interest in latent energies, such as aromas, sound waves and electromagnetic currents.

Haines revisits the classic language of the sublime in his 2004 two-channel video installation Day & night. He presents dual images of the sublime: one an immense cliff face with a sea surging against its rocky base; the other a brooding cloudscape, its form gradually unfolding with a mesmeric momentum. The work is simultaneously serene and disturbing, and awakens that range of complex emotions that Kant named the ‘supersensible’ – beyond the range of what is normally perceptible by the senses. The over-riding emotional rush – the presentiment of danger – associated with this experience is a trademark of the sublime.

The abstract sense of danger shifts however when we notice the tiny figure clinging to the cliff face. The scene is abruptly divested of its fantastical quality (its symbolic power is suddenly made real), as we can’t help but identify with the solitary figure. No longer merely observers, we become participants in the scene before us. The perilous figure in Haines’ work provides a touchstone in terms of the overwhelming grandeur of nature. In the context of the exhibition, s/he could represent each of us as we confront the seemingly insurmountable environmental and humanitarian challenges resulting from the increasingly catastrophic effects of global warming.

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Jamie North 
Portal II
2014
Cement, marble waste, limestone, steel slag, coal ash, plastic fibre, tree fern slab, various Australian native plants and Spanish moss
2 components: 107.0 x 26.0 x 26.0 cm each
Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney

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Jamie North 
Slag bowl I & II
2013
Concrete, coal ash, steel slag, Australian native plants and moss
15 x 37 x 37cm each
Courtesy the artist and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney

 

 

Viewers often mistake Jamie North’s sculptures for actual relics. The sculptures are in fact carefully crafted to emulate liminal habitats where hardy plant species grow in inhospitable conditions. More than mere simulation, each work is itself a miniature ecosystem and has to be tended accordingly.

The sculptures are cast from materials that are commonly found in industrial settings (steel slag, coal ash, marble dust, and concrete) and include local native flora. The specifics of locality are important to North, and his work is a subtle investigation of local environmental systems and the character of place as well as the adaptability of nature in urban settings…

North has an interest in terraforming – the theoretical process of deliberately modifying the atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology of a planet to be similar to the biosphere of Earth. Here, he creates his own terraforms as a reflection on the environmental manipulations that taking place in the everyday.

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Nature/Revelation' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Nature/Revelation at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne showing Berndnaut Smilde’s Nimbus – Probe  and Nimbus D’Aspremont (left) and Jamie North’s Portal II and Slag bowl I & II (right)

 

Berndnaut Smilde. 'Nimbus D'Aspremont' 2012

 

Berndnaut Smilde 
Nimbus D’Aspremont
2012
Digital C-type print mounted on diabond
75 x 110 cm
Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery, London

 

Berndnaut Smilde. 'Nimbus - Probe' 2010

 

Berndnaut Smilde 
Nimbus – Probe
2010
Digital C-type print mounted on diabond
75 x 112 cm
Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery, London

 

 

The Ian Potter Museum of Art
The University of Melbourne,
Swanston Street (between Elgin and Faraday Streets)
Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria
Tel: +61 3 8344 5148

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday 12 – 5 pm

The Ian Potter Museum of Art website

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19
Mar
15

Exhibition: ‘Shatter Rupture Break’ at the Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition dates: 15th February – 3rd May 2015

 

Again, I am drawn to these impressive avant-garde works of art. I’d have any of them residing in my flat, thank you very much. The Dalí, Delaunay and Léger in painting and drawing for me, and in photography, the muscular Ilse Bing, the divine Umbo and the mesmeric, disturbing can’t take your eyes off it, Witkiewicz self-portrait.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Art Institute of Chicago for allowing me to publish the art works in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Everything had broken down in any case, and new things had to be made out of the fragments.”

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Kurt Schwitters, 1930

 

 

“A century ago, society and life were changing as rapidly and radically as they are in today’s digital age. Quicker communication, faster production, and wider circulation of people, goods, and ideas – in addition to the outbreak of World War I – produced a profoundly new understanding of the world, and artists in the early years of the 20th century responded to these issues with both exhilaration and anxiety. Freeing themselves from the restraints of tradition, modern artists developed groundbreaking pictorial strategies that reflect this new shift in perception.

Shatter Rupture Break, the first exhibition in The Modern Series, explores the manifold ways that ideas of fragmentation and rupture, which permeated both the United States and Europe, became central conceptual and visual themes in art of the modern age. Responding to the new forms and pace of the metropolis, artists such as Robert Delaunay and Gino Severini disrupted traditional conventions of depth and illusionism, presenting vision as something fractured. Kurt Schwitters and George Grosz explored collage, using trash and bits and pieces of printed material in compositions to reflect social and political upheaval and produce something whole out of fragments. In the wake of new theories of the mind as well as the literal tearing apart of bodies in war, artists such as Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dalí, and Stanisław Witkiewicz produced photographs and objects revealing the fractured self or erotic dismemberment. The theme of fragmentation was ubiquitous as inspiration for both the formal and conceptual revolutions in art making in the modern age.

Shatter Rupture Break unites diverse objects from across the entire holdings of the Art Institute – paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, decorative arts and designed objects, textiles, books, and films – to present a rich cacophony that exemplifies the radical and generative ruptures of modern art.

The Modern Series

A quintessentially modern city, Chicago has been known as a place for modern art for over a century, and the Art Institute of Chicago has been central to this history. The Modern Series exhibitions are designed to bring together the museum’s acclaimed holdings of modern art across all media, display them in fresh and innovative ways within new intellectual contexts, and demonstrate the continued vitality and relevance of modern art for today.

Text from the Art Institute of Chicago website

 

 

Ivan Albright. 'Medical Sketchbook' 1918

 

Ivan Albright (American, 1897-1983)
Medical Sketchbook
1918
The Art Institute of Chicago
Gift of Philip V. Festoso
© The Art Institute of Chicago

 

Salvador Dalí. 'City of Drawers' 1936

 

Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904-1989)
City of Drawers
1936
The Art Institute of Chicago
Gift of Frank B. Hubachek
© Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, 2014

 

Ilse Bing. 'Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1931' 1931

 

Ilse Bing (German, 1899-1998)
Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1931
1931
Julien Levy Collection, Gift of Jean and Julien Levy
© Estate of Ilse Bing

 

 

Luis Buñuel (Spanish, 1900-1983)
Un Chien Andalou
1929

 

 

Fernand Léger
Ballet Mécanique
1924

 

Ballet Mécanique (1923-4) is a Dadaist post-Cubist art film conceived, written, and co-directed by the artist Fernand Léger in collaboration with the filmmaker Dudley Murphy (with cinematographic input from Man Ray). It has a musical score by the American composer George Antheil. However, the film premiered in silent version on 24 September 1924 at the Internationale Ausstellung neuer Theatertechnik (International Exposition for New Theater Technique) in Vienna presented by Frederick Kiesler. It is considered one of the masterpieces of early experimental filmmaking

 

Claude Cahun. 'Object' 1936

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Object
1936
The Art Institute of Chciago
Through prior gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman

 

 

“The Art Institute of Chicago is introducing an innovative new series of exhibitions that presents works from the museum’s acclaimed collection of modern art in reimagined ways that demonstrate the continued vitality and significance these works have today.

The Modern Series debuts with Shatter Rupture Break, opening Sunday, February 15, in Galleries 182 and 184 of the museum’s Modern Wing. The exhibition unites such diverse objects as paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, decorative arts and designed objects, textiles, books, and films.

“We wanted to explore how the idea of rupture permeated modern life in Europe and the Americas,” said Elizabeth Siegel, Associate Curator of Photography, who, with Sarah Kelly Oehler, the Gilda and Henry Buchbinder Associate Curator of American Art, took the lead in organizing the first exhibition. “It served as an inspiration for revolutionary formal and conceptual developments in art making that remain relevant today.”

A century ago, society was changing as rapidly and radically as it is in today’s digital age. Quicker communication, faster production, and wider circulation of people, goods, and ideas – in addition to the outbreak of World War I – produced a profoundly new understanding of the world, and artists responded with both anxiety and exhilaration. Freeing themselves from the restraints of tradition, modern artists developed groundbreaking pictorial strategies that reflected this new shift in perception.

Responding to the new forms and pace of cities, artists such as Robert Delaunay (French, 1885-1941) and Gino Severini (Italian, 1883-1966) disrupted traditional conventions of depth and illusionism, presenting vision as something fractured. Delaunay’s Champs de Mars: The Red Tower fragments the iconic form of the Eiffel Tower, exemplifying how modern life – particularly in an accelerated urban environment – encouraged new and often fractured ways of seeing. Picturesque vistas no longer adequately conveyed the fast pace of the modern metropolis.

The human body as well could no longer be seen as intact and whole. A devastating and mechanized world war had returned men from the front with unimaginable wounds, and the fragmented body became emblematic of a new way of understanding a fractured world. Surrealists such as Hans Bellmer (German, 1902-1975), Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954) and Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904-1989) fetishized body parts in images, separating out eyes, hands, and legs in suggestive renderings. A more literal representation of the shattered body comes from Chicago’s own Ivan Albright, who was a medical draftsman in World War I. In his rarely shown Medical Sketchbook, he created fascinatingly gruesome watercolors that documented injured soldiers and the x-rays of their wounds.

Just as with the body, the mind in the modern era also came to be seen as fragmented. Stanislaw Witkiewicz (Polish, 1885-1939) produced a series of self-portraits as an act of psychological exploration. His work culminated in one stunning photograph made by shattering a glass negative, which he then reassembled and printed, thus conveying an evocative sense of a shattered psyche. The artistic expression of dreams and mental imagery perhaps reached a pinnacle not in a painting or a sculpture, but in a film. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s film Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog) mystified viewers with its dreamlike narrative, dissolves from human to animal forms, dismembered body parts, and shockingly violent acts in an attempt to translate the unconscious mind onto a celluloid strip.

Kurt Schwitters (German, 1887-1948) and George Grosz (German, 1893-1959) explored collage, which took on new importance for avant-garde artists thanks to the aesthetic appeal and widespread availability of mass-produced media. Schwitters used the ephemera of German society to create what he called Merz, an invented term signifying an artistic practice that included collage, assemblage, painting, poems, and performance. The Art Institute owns a significant group of these collages by Schwitters, and six will appear in the exhibition. The use of thrown-away, ripped up, and scissored-out pieces of paper, divorced from their original meaning and reassembled with nails and glue into new objects, was an act that exposed the social and political disruptions of a German society that seemed broken and on the edge of collapse in the aftermath of World War I.

Shatter Rupture Break is unusual in that it unites objects from across the entire museum – from seven curatorial departments as well as the library. This multiplicity is significant because modern artists did not confine themselves to one medium, but explored different visual effects across a variety of media. As well, the show prominently features the voices of artists, writers, scientists, and other intellectuals of the period. The goal is to create a dynamic space that evokes the electrifying, disruptive, and cacophonous nature of modern art at the time.

“We hope to excite interest in the modern period as a crucial precursor to the changes of our own time, to show how what might seem old now was shockingly fresh then,” said Oehler.

Considered one of the finest and most comprehensive in the world, the Art Institute’s collection of modern art includes nearly 1,000 works by artists from Europe and the Americas. The museum was an early champion of modern artists, from its presentation of the Armory Show in 1913 to its early history of acquiring major masterpieces. This show highlights some recent acquisitions of modern art, but also includes some long-held works that have formed the core of the modern collection for decades. Shatter Rupture Break celebrates this history by bringing together works that visitors may know well, but have never seen in this context or with this diverse array of objects.”

Press release from the Art Institute of Chicago

 

Robert Delaunay. 'Champs de Mars: The Red Tower' 1911/23

 

Robert Delaunay (French, 1885-1941)
Champs de Mars: The Red Tower
1911/23
The Art Institute of Chicago
Joseph Winterbotham Collection

 

Fernand Léger. 'Composition in Blue' 1921-27

 

Fernand Léger (French, 1881-1955)
Composition in Blue
1921-27
The Art Institute of Chicago
Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

 

Stuart Davis. 'Ready-to-Wear' 1955

 

Stuart Davis (American, 1892-1964)
Ready-to-Wear
1955
The Art Institute of Chicago
Restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sigmund W. Kunstadter; Goodman Endowment

 

Designed by Ruben Haley, Made by Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company. "Ruba Rombic" Vase, 1928/32

 

Designed by Ruben Haley
Made by Consolidated Lamp and Glass Company
“Ruba Rombic” Vase
1928/32
Art Institute of Chicago
Raymond W. Garbe Fund in honor of Carl A. Erikson; Shirley and Anthony Sallas Fund

 

Kurt Schwitters. 'Mz 13 Call' 1919

 

Kurt Schwitters (German, 1887-1948)
Mz 13 Call
1919
The Art Institute of Chicago
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice E. Culberg
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

 

Diego Rivera. 'Portrait of Marevna' c. 1915

 

Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957)
Portrait of Marevna
c. 1915
The Art Institute of Chicago
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, gift of Georgia O’Keeffe
© 2014 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Hans Bellmer. 'The Doll (La Poupée)' 1935

 

Hans Bellmer (German, born Poland, 1902-1975)
The Doll (La Poupée)
1935
Gelatin silver print overpainted with white gouache
65.6 x 64 cm
Anonymous restricted gift; Special Photography Acquisition Fund; through prior gifts of Boardroom, Inc., David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg, Sherry and Alan Koppel, the Sandor Family Collection, Robert Wayne, Simon Levin, Michael and Allison Delman, Charles Levin, and Peter and Suzann Matthews; restricted gift of Lynn Hauser and Neil Ross
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

 

Umbo (Otto Umber). 'Untitled' 1928

 

Umbo (Otto Umber) (German, 1902-1980)
Untitled
1928
Julien Levy Collection, Gift of Jean and Julien Levy
© 2014 Phyllis Umbehr/Galerie Kicken Berlin/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz. 'Self-Portrait, Zakopane [Broken Glass]' 1910

 

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Polish, 1885-1939)
Self-Portrait, Zakopane [Broken Glass]
1910
Promised Gift of a Private Collection

 

 

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
T: (312) 443-3600

Opening hours:
Monday – Wednesday, 10.30 – 5.00
Thursday, 10.30 – 8.00
Friday, 10.30 – 8.00
Saturday – Sunday, 10.00 – 5.00
The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days.

The Art Institute of Chicago website

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24
Nov
13

Exhibition: ‘Manuel Álvarez Bravo’ at The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University, San Marcos

Exhibition dates: 1st August – 1st December 2013

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This photographer will always be in my top ten photographers of all time. His lyricism and sensitivity to subject matter and narrative is up there with the very best that the medium has to offer. He was a great influence on my photography when I started taking black and white photographs in 1990. In this posting, it is nice to see some of the less well known of his images.

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Many thankx to The Wittliff Collections 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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Installation view of the exhibition 'Manuel Álvarez Bravo' at The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University

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Installation view of the exhibition Manuel Álvarez Bravo at The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'La señal / The Sign' 1967

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
La señal / The Sign
1967
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Patricia and Keith Carter

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Votos / Votive Offerings' 1966-69

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Votos / Votive Offerings
1966-69
Gelatin silver print

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41Bravo_AngeldelTemblor-WEB

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Ángel del temblor / Angel of the Earthquake
1957
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Colchón / Mattress' 1927

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Colchón / Mattress
1927
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'La buena fama durmiendo / The Good Reputation Sleeping' 1938-1939

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
La buena fama durmiendo / The Good Reputation Sleeping
1938-1939
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Obrero en huelga, asesinado / Striking Worker, Assassinated' 1934

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Obrero en huelga, asesinado / Striking Worker, Assassinated
1934
Gelatin silver print

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14Bravo_BoxofVisions-WEB

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Caja de visiones / Box of Visions
1938
Gelatin silver print

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One of the founders of modern photography, Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902-2002) is Mexico’s most accomplished and renowned photographer. His images are masterpieces of post-revolutionary Mexico, composed with avant-garde and surreal aesthetics that resonate with stylized vision. Álvarez Bravo’s signature landscapes, portraits, and nudes translate reality into dream-like moments that have become iconic. “Don Manuel,” as he was called, taught photography at various schools in Mexico City and mentored generations of Mexico’s finest photographers. The Wittliff is proud to present its first-ever solo exhibition of works by this esteemed master – the result of more than 20 years of collecting – more than 50 of Álvarez Bravo’s signed prints. Included among the many famous images are: Bicicletas en domingo / Bicycles on SundayCaja de visiones / Box of VisionsEl ensueño / The Day DreamObrero en huelga asesinado / Striking Worker MurderedParábola óptica / Optical Parable; and Retrato de lo eterno Portrait of the Eternal.

Born in 1902 in Mexico City into a family that supported the arts, Manuel Álvarez Bravo learned photography largely on his own but was encouraged by other well-known photographers, including Hugo Brehme, Tina Modotti, and Edward Weston, as well as the French surrealist writer André Breton. Álvarez Bravo’s art – which matured into a transcendence of culture, time, and place – was inspired by the times, during post-Revolutionary Mexico when Mexico City flourished as one of the major creative and intellectual centers of the world. In 1955, Edward Steichen included his work in the landmark exhibition The Family of Man for the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Álvarez Bravo’s imagery has been featured in over 150 solo exhibitions, and he garnered many honors throughout his career.

The interests of “Don Manuel,” as he was called, went beyond his own photographic work, and his influence was far-reaching. He co-founded the Mexican Foundation for Publishing in the Plastic Arts devoted to books about Mexican art, planned the Mexican Museum of Photography in Mexico City, and mentored and befriended a great many younger, emerging photographers and artists in Mexico. He died at the age of 100 in October 2002. On view in addition to the Álvarez Bravo photographs are portraits of him by Graciela Iturbide, Rodrigo Moya, and Bill Wittliff. The poem Facing Time, an ode to Álvarez Bravo’s work by Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz, is featured among other supplementary materials. Paz, a collaborator and friend of Álvarez Bravo’s, describes the photographer’s vision as “the arrow of the eye / dead center / in the target of the moment.”

Text from The Wittliff Collections website

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Retrato de lo Eterno / Portrait of the Eternal' 1977

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Retrato de lo Eterno / Portrait of the Eternal
1977
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'En el templo del tigre rojo / In the Temple of the Red Tiger' 1949

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
En el templo del tigre rojo / In the Temple of the Red Tiger
1949
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Calabaza y caracol / Squash and Snail' 1928, printed 1980

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Calabaza y caracol / Squash and Snail

1928, printed 1980
Platinum print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Nino Orinando' 1927

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Nino Orinando
1927

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Día de todos muertos / Day of the Dead' 1933

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Día de todos muertos / Day of the Dead
1933
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of Bill and Sally Wittliff

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Las lavanderas sobreentendidas / The Washerwomen Implied' 1932

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Las lavanderas sobreentendidas / 
The Washerwomen Implied
1932
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Señor de Papantla / Man from Papantla' 1934

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Señor de Papantla / Man from Papantla
1934
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Peluquero / Barber' 1924

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Peluquero / Barber
1924
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'El ensueño / The Daydream' 1931

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
El ensueño / The Daydream

1931
Platinum print
Courtesy of Bill and Sally Wittliff

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'El umbral / The Threshold' 1947

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
El umbral / The Threshold
1947
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Dos pares de piernas / Two Pairs of Legs' 1928-29

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Dos pares de piernas / Two Pairs of Legs
1928-29
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of Bill and Sally Wittliff

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Maniquí tapado / Wrapped Mannequin' 1931

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Maniquí tapado / Wrapped Mannequin
1931
Gelatin silver print

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'El pez grande se come a los chicos / The Big Fish Eats the Little Ones' 1932

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
El pez grande se come a los chicos / 
The Big Fish Eats the Little Ones
1932
Gelatin silver print

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16bravo_optica-WEB

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Parabola optica / Optical Parable
1931
Gelatin silver print

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The Wittliff Collections
Alkek Library, Seventh Floor
Texas State University, San Marcos

Opening hours:
Hours vary throughout the year – PLEASE CALL AHEAD: 512.245.2313.

The Wittliff Collections website

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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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04
Jul
12

Exhibition: ‘Photography in Mexico: Selected Works from the Collections of SFMOMA and Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser’ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Exhibition dates: 10th March – 8th July 2012

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“There is no one ‘Mexican photography,’ but one strand that runs throughout is a synthesis of aesthetics and politics. We see that with Manuel Alvarez Bravo, and we still see it in work made decades later.”

Jessica S. McDonald

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One of my early heroes in photography was Manuel Alvarez Bravo whom I rate as one of the best photographers that has ever lived, up there with Atget and Sudek. His photograph Parabola optica (Optical Parable, 1931, below) lays the foundation for an inherent language of Mexican photography: that of a parable, a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. Many Mexican photographs tell such stories based on the mythology of the country: there are elements of the absurd, surrealism, macabre, revolution, political and socio-economic issues, also of death, violence, beauty, youth, sexuality and religion to name but a few – a search for national identity that is balanced in the photographs of Bravo by a sense of inner peace and redemption. This potent mix of issues and emotions is what makes Mexican photography so powerful and substantive. In the “presence” (or present, the awareness of the here and now) of Mexican photography there is a definite calligraphy of the body in space in most of the work. This handwriting is idiosyncratic and emotive; it draws the viewer into an intimate narrative embrace.

Two famous photographs by Bravo illustrate some of these themes (Apollonian/Dionysian; utopian/dystopian). When placed together they seem to have a strange attraction one to the other:

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Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Obrero en huelga, asesinado (Striking Worker, Assassinated)
1934
Gelatin silver print
19.2 x 23.8 cm

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Manuel Alvarez Bravo
La buena fama durmiendo (The Good Reputation Sleeping)
1939
20.3 x 25.4 cm

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Unlike most Australian documentary photography where there is an observational distance present in the photographs – a physical space between the camera/photographer and the subject – Mexican documentary photography is imbued with a revolutionary spirit and validated by the investment of the photographer in the subject itself, as though the image is the country is the photographer. There is an essence and energy to the Mexican photographs that seems to turn narrative on its head, unlike the closed loop present in the tradition of Australian story telling. The intimate, swirling narratives of Mexican photography could almost be termed lyrical socio-realist. The halo of the golden child of Yvonne Venegas’ Nirvana (2006, below) menaced by the upturned forks is a perfect example.

Some of the themes mentioned above are evidenced in the photographs in this posting. Not the placid nude or heroic pyramid of Weston but the howl of the masked animal and surrealism of Our Lady of the Iguanas demands our close engagement. I only wish Australian photographers could be as forthright in their investigation of the morals and ethics of this country and our seemingly never ending search for a national identity (other than war, mateship, the beach, sport and the appropriation of Aboriginal painting exported as the Australian art “identity”).

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Many thankx to SFMOMA 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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Pablo Ortiz Monasterio
Y es plata, cemento o brisa
c. 1985
Gelatin silver print
8 9/16 in. x 12 3/4 in. (21.75 cm x 32.39 cm)
Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© Pablo Ortiz Monasterio

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Oscar Fernando Gómez
Untitled from the series The Windows
2008 – 2010
Inkjet print
17 1/4 in. x 24 in. (43.82 cm x 60.96 cm)
Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© Oscar Fernando Gómez

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Enrique Metinides
Rescate de un ahogado en Xochimilco con público reflejado en el agua (Retrieval of a drowned body from Lake Xochimilco with the public reflected in the water)
1960
Gelatin silver print
13 3/4 x 20 3/4 in.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Anonymous Fund purchase
© Enrique Metinides

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Paolo Pellegrin
USA. El Paso, Texas. May 17, 2011. Two men, who illegally attempted to enter the U.S., run across the dry Rio Grande river back to Juarez, Mexico after being spotted by the US Border Patrol
2011
Inkjet print
15 3/16 in. x 22 3/4 in. (38.58 cm x 57.79 cm)
Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© Paolo Pellegrin

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Yvonne Venegas
Nirvana from the series Maria Elvia De Hank
2006
Inkjet print
19 1/2 in. x 24 in. (49.53 cm x 60.96 cm)
Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© Yvonne Venegas

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“From March 10 through July 8, 2012, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present the exhibition Photography in Mexico: Selected Works from the Collections of SFMOMA and Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser. Exploring the distinctively rich and diverse tradition of photography in Mexico from the 1920s to the present, the exhibition showcases works by important Mexican photographers as well as major American and European artists who found Mexico to be a place of great artistic inspiration.

Organized by SFMOMA Assistant Curator of Photography Jessica S. McDonald, the selection of more than 150 works draws from SFMOMA’s world-class photography holdings and highlights recent major gifts and loans from collectors Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser. The presentation reflects the collections’ particular strengths, featuring photographs made in Mexico by Tina Modotti, Paul Strand, and Edward Weston, along with works by key Mexican photographers including Lola Alvarez Bravo, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Manuel Carrillo, Héctor Garcia, Lourdes Grobet, Graciela Iturbide, Enrique Metinides, Pedro Meyer, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, and Mariana Yampolsky.

The exhibition begins with the first artistic flowering of photography in Mexico after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and goes on to look at the explosion of the illustrated press at midcentury; the documentary investigations of cultural traditions and urban politics that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s; and more recent considerations of urban life, globalization, and issues particular to the U.S.-Mexico border region. Rather than attempting to define a national style, the exhibition considers the range of approaches and concerns that photographers in Mexico have pursued over time. As McDonald notes, “There is no one ‘Mexican photography,’ but one strand that runs throughout is a synthesis of aesthetics and politics. We see that with Manuel Alvarez Bravo, and we still see it in work made decades later.”

As arts and culture flourished in Mexico after the Revolution, many European and American artists were drawn to the country. Among them were Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, who arrived in Mexico in 1923. Inspired by what they saw there, Weston and Modotti in turn motivated Mexican photographers to pursue the medium’s artistic possibilities; their influence helped “give Mexican photographers confidence that art photography was a viable path,” says McDonald. Hence, the exhibition opens with a selection of works made in Mexico by Modotti, Weston, his son Brett Weston, and Paul Strand during the 1920s and 1930s.

One of the Mexican photographers encouraged by Modotti and Weston was Manuel Alvarez Bravo, who went on to become one of the most influential photographers and teachers in the country’s history as well as a key figure in the broader international history of the medium. The exhibition features a substantial number of major works by the photographer, many of them donated or loaned to SFMOMA by Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser. In considering Alvarez Bravo’s career, the exhibition illuminates the birth and development of a tradition of art photography in Mexico. The presentation also includes a selection of works by Alvarez Bravo’s first wife, Lola Alvarez Bravo, an important photographer in her own right who established a successful commercial and artistic practice.

In mid-20th-century Mexico, as in the United States and Europe, earning an adequate income as an art photographer was an unlikely proposition. Instead, many photographers made a living through photojournalism, contributing to the numerous illustrated publications in circulation during this period. In the decades following the Revolution, there was great interest in traditional ways of life and in defining what it meant to be Mexican. Some photographers, such as Manuel Carrillo, created images documenting the nation’s traditions and celebrating its common people. Others, like Hector Garcia and Rodrigo Moya, rejected this sentimental approach, focusing instead on contemporary concerns and the political and social turbulence that continued to influence post-revolutionary Mexican life.

The late 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of critical theory and a new interest in investigating the nature of photography as a medium; in Mexico as elsewhere, there were more opportunities to study photography and to pursue noncommercial projects. A number of Mexican photographers, such as Lourdes Grobet, Graciela Iturbide, Pedro Meyer, and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, created extended documentary series. Iturbide lived among indigenous people and recorded the details of their daily lives; Grobet focused on wrestling and the cultural concept of the mask; Ortiz Monasterio captured gritty, dystopian views of Mexico City. The exhibition draws extensively on gifts from Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser to represent directions in Mexican photography of the 1970s and 1980s.

Since the 1990s, the attention of many Mexican photographers has turned away from cultural traditions and rural landscapes and toward the cities and suburbs where many Mexicans now live. Works by Katya Brailovsky, Alejandro Cartagena, Pablo Lopez Luz, Daniela Rossell, and Yvonne Venegas reflect this interest in the changing social landscape, looking at issues of wealth and class, urbanization and land use, and the effects of the globalized economy. The exhibition closes with contemporary international photographers’ perspectives on U.S.-Mexico border issues. Images by Mark Klett, Victoria Sambunaris, and Alec Soth consider the border as landscape, while works by Elsa Medina, Susan Meiselas, and Paolo Pellegrin document the experiences of migrant workers and people trying, successfully or unsuccessfully, to cross into the United States.

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List of Photographers Included

Katya Brailovsky, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Manuel Carrillo, Alejandro Cartagena, Eduardo del Valle and Mirta Gomez, Pia Elizondo, Dave Gatley, Oscar Fernando Gomez, Héctor Garcia, Lourdes Grobet, Graciela Iturbide, Geoffrey James, Mark Klett, Pablo Lopez Luz, Elsa Medina, Susan Meiselas, Enrique Metinides, Pedro Meyer, Tina Modotti, Rodrigo Moya, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Paolo Pellegrin, Antonio Reynoso, Daniela Rossell, Mark Ruwedel, Victoria Sambunaris, Alec Soth, Paul Strand, Yvonne Venegas, Brett Weston, Edward Weston, and Mariana Yampolsky.

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About Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser

Based in Los Angeles, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser have a deep and longstanding interest in Mexican photography, which they have been collecting since 1995. The photography department at SFMOMA has benefited greatly from their generosity: they have donated more than 175 works to the museum over the last six years. Their recent major gift of Mexican work, including over 50 photographs by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, and others, has created an ideal opportunity for SFMOMA to present this exhibition exploring photography in Mexico.”

Press release from SFMOMA website

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Edward Weston
Pirámide del Sol, Teotihuacán
1923
Gelatin silver print
7 9/16 x 9 1/2 in.
San Francisco Museum of Modern art, gift of Brett Weston
© 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents

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Alejandro Cartagena
Fragmented Cities, Juarez #2 from the series Suburbia Mexicana
2007
Inkjet print
20 x 24 in.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Alejandro Cartagena

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Lola Álvarez Bravo
Los gorrones
c. 1955, printed later
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 in. x 11 3/4 in. (24.45 cm x 29.85 cm)
Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© 1995 Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Foundation

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Edward Weston
Tina Modotti, Half-Nude in Kimono
1924
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 x 4 11/16 in.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Albert M. Bender Collection, Albert M. Bender Bequest Fund purchase
© 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents

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Lourdes Grobet
Ponzoña, Arena Coliseo
c. 1983
Gelatin silver print
14 x 11 in.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Jane and Larry Reed
© Lourdes Grobet

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Graciela Iturbide
La Nuestra Senora de las Iguanas, Juchitan, Oaxaca, Mexico (Our Lady of the Iguanas, Juchitan, Oxaca, Mexico)
1979
Gelatin silver print
17 5/16 x 14 7/16 in.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of the artist
© Graciela Iturbide

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo. 'Parabola optica (Optical Parable)' 1931

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Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Parabola optica (Optical Parable)
1931
Gelatin silver print
9 3/4 in. x 7 1/4 in. (24.77 cm x 18.42 cm)
Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© Colette Urbajtel / Asociación Manuel Álvarez Bravo

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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
151 Third Street (between Mission + Howard)
San Francisco CA 94103

Opening hours:
Monday – Tuesday 11.00 am – 5.45 pm
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 11.00 am – 8.45 pm
Friday – Sunday 11.00 am – 5.45 pm

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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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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