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Article

Isobel Whitelegg

revised by Laura Gonzalez

[née Martínez de Anda, Dolores ]

(b Largos de Moreno, Jalisco, Apr 3, 1907; d Mexico City, Jul 31, 1993).

Mexican photographer. Born in Lagos de Moreno in the northern state of Jalisco, Martínez lived her first years in Guadalajara. After her parents’ separation in 1910, she moved to Mexico City with her father and brother. After her father’s sudden death in 1916, she was adopted by an older half-brother who sent her to a Catholic boarding school. At 18 she married a young friend and neighbor, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, who was then working at the Ministry of Finance as an accountant. In 1925 he was offered a better post in the southern city of Oaxaca, where the couple moved. Manuel started producing “weekend photographs” and Lola acted as his lab assistant. With Manuel’s camera, she started to produce her first photographs. On returning to Mexico City in 1927, she gave birth to a son, Manuel, and continued to assist her husband in the first stages of his career as a photographer. The couple displayed an active social agenda in the post-revolutionary cultural movement, sharing projects with friends who included Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo, María Izquierdo, Julio Castellanos, Frances Toor, Tina Modotti, Luis Cardoza y Aragón, and some of the “Contemporáneos” (Xavier Villaurrutia, Carlos Mérida, Salvador Novo, and Carlos Pellicer). The Álvarez Bravos opened an informal gallery at their home in Tacubaya in ...

Article

Mexican, 20th century, male.

Born 4 February 1902, in Mexico City; died 19 October 2002, in Mexico City.

Photographer, photojournalist.

Originally working as a copy clerk, Manuel Alvarez Bravo experienced a dramatic shift in his life trajectory when his father gave him a camera in ...

Article

Elizabeth Ferrer

(b Mexico City, Feb 4, 1902; d Mexico City, Oct 19, 2002).

Mexican photographer. Álvarez Bravo’s interest in photography began in his adolescence while living in Mexico City in the 1910s, the years of the Mexican Revolution. He left school at the age of 13 to help support his family but pursued his creative interests by studying foreign photography magazines and receiving instruction from the German photographer based in Mexico, Hugo Brehme. Álvarez Bravo’s earliest images, made with a large-format Graflex camera, reflected the romantic pictorialist mode identified with Brehme’s generation. By 1925, however, he turned to a modernist aesthetic inspired by the photographs Edward Weston made in Mexico in the mid-1920s as well as those of Tina Modotti, who accompanied Weston and remained in the country until 1930. During this era Álvarez Bravo came to know Modotti as well as the artists who led Mexico’s cultural renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo. Also central to this circle was ...

Article

Cuban, 20th century, male.

Active in France since 1992.

Born 8 September 1934, in Havana.

Painter, draughtsman, graphic designer, film maker.

Armas studied Cuban archaeology, and rupestrian art in particular. He was a caricaturist at first, then a graphic designer and film maker. He established the cartoon department at the Cuban institute of cinematic arts. He won several prizes for this work. In ...

Article

Gustavo Navarro-Castro

(b Caracas, 1952).

Venezuelan photographer. He was self-taught and dedicated himself to photography from 1972, first working for the magazine Escena (1974–6) and then for the Galería de Arte Nacional in Caracas (1976–8). His first exhibition, Acercamiento a Zitman, was held at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Sofía Imber, Caracas, in ...

Article

Julieta Ortiz Gaitán

(b Mexico City, April 25, 1944).

Mexican photographer. She studied art at the Universidad Motolinía and at the Universidad Anáhuac, both in Mexico City, and undertook specialist studies at the Club Fotográfico de México. Ascher’s work showed the influence of such photographers as Yousuf Karsh, Sam Haskins (b 1926) and Richard Avedon, but it was also more generally stimulated by the work of Eugène Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Henri Cartier-Bresson. She made frequent trips to New York, where she acquired experience from photographers and artists that not only enriched her own visual concepts but also the technical aspects of her work. Ascher consolidated her position in Mexican photography through her work, particularly in the acute sensitivity of her many portraits of personalities from the artistic and cultural world. Her series of José Luis Cuevas and Juan Rulfo are among her most outstanding works. After several years of work she collected the material that was published as ...

Article

Argentinian, 20th century, male.

Born 14 May 1905, in Rosario (Santa Fé); died 13 October 1981, in Buenos Aires.

Painter, sculptor, engraver, collage artist, photomontage artist, assemblage artist. Figure compositions, landscapes, portraits, still-lifes, scenes with figures.

Nouvelle Figuration, Figuration Narrative.

Nuevo Realismo Group.

Berní was the son of Italian immigrants in Argentina. His childhood and early youth were marked by destitution. In 1915, when his father died, he went to live with his grandmother, where he had to travel 10 kilometres (six miles) on horseback to get to school every morning. From 1916, he was able to study stained glass window technique and attend a drawing course for young people. He was then influenced by the Post-Impressionism of the Spaniard, Joaquín Sorolla. He began to exhibit in 1918.From 1921 to 1924, he abandoned his studies and went to live among the peasants of the Pampa, where he painted landscapes. In 1925, he won a scholarship that enabled him to travel to Europe, where he stayed first in Madrid, then settled in Paris, where he frequented the studios of André Lhote and Othon Friesz at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse and discovered the painting of Picasso, Braque and de Chirico. In 1928, still in Paris, he met the Surrealists, associating mainly with Aragon; he did not formally join the movement but he immersed himself in the psychological atmosphere of the group and its Marxist commitment. He read Marx, Engels and Lenin, and met Henri Lefebvre. His painting was influenced by his Surrealist friendships, particularly in the series of photomontages and collages that he embarked on in 1929. In 1930, he returned to Argentina, where he studied further and was still able in 1932 to exhibit his Surrealist paintings of 1929-1931, in which he had mainly applied Lautréamont's formula concerning encounters with random objects.On his return, he had founded the ...

Article

Camara Dia Holloway

[Smikle, David Edward]

(b Queens, NY, Nov 25, 1953).

African American photographer. Bey was born and raised in the neighborhood of Jamaica, in Queens, New York City. His interest in photography was cemented by viewing the now infamous exhibition, Harlem on My Mind, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1969. He studied at the School of Visual Arts during 1976–8, later earning his BFA from Empire State College, State University of New York in 1990, followed by his MFA from Yale University School of Art in 1993.

Bey launched his career in 1975 with the Harlem, USA series, following in the footsteps of street photographers who found the predominantly African American community a compelling subject. This series of black-and-white portraits became the subject of Bey’s first solo exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979.

During the 1980s, Bey continued making portraits expanding his terrain beyond Harlem. Sensitive to the politics of representing African Americans, he developed strategies to equalize the photographic encounter. Bey began using a large-format view camera on a tripod that he set up in the street. He established a dialogue with his sitters and gifted them with a print of their portrait. This was facilitated by his discovery of 4×5 Polaroid positive/negative Type 55 film that yielded virtually instant prints....

Article

Erika Billeter

(b Surrey, Feb 16, 1931).

Brazilian photographer and film maker of English birth. Having moved to Brazil, she studied painting with André Lhote in Paris (1953–4) and with the American painter Morris Kantor (b 1896) at the Art Students’ League in New York (1954–6), before deciding to become a photographer; after 1962 she worked as a freelance photojournalist and film maker. In 1970 a Guggenheim Fellowship enabled her to go to Brazil, where she settled. She began to take an interest in the Indian inhabitants, and as a result spent years working with the Xingu in the Amazon region, creating an important visual record of the Amazon Indians at a time when their culture was increasingly threatened. In 1975 this work brought her the Critics’ Prize at the São Paulo Biennale. In 1979 her illustrated book Xingu Tribal Territory appeared. Among her films were A João Guimarães Rosa (...

Article

Manuel Cirauqui

(b Mexico City, 1981).

Mexican conceptual artist. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bonillas started his career before, and instead of, undertaking an official fine arts education. Widely and internationally exhibited before he reached age 20, his work began with highly analytical studies of ordinary photographic procedures such as printing (in his foundational piece, Trabajos fotográficos, 1998) or pressing the shutter (Diez cámaras documentadas acústicamente, 1998).

Bonillas’s work investigates the materiality and semiotic depth of the photographic medium in a somewhat topographic manner: starting, and never ending, in a periphery that stands ambiguously as both the material margins of photography as well as its self-reflective dimension. However, the “peripheral” nature of Bonillas’s inquiry quickly reveals itself as a strategy to address core aspects of a medium whose substance lies, precisely, on its surface. As the artist exerts infinite variations on generic aspects of the photographic practice, alternately related to structure and meaning (primary colors, family photographs, erasures, captioning, fiction, archival habits, etc.), he delivers a paradox with each of his works. In them, background becomes foreground, face becomes pigment, anecdote becomes the main theme, stain becomes signature, and vice versa....