The Photographers Gallery London presents a selection of rare platinum and silver gelatin prints by the great modernist Mexican photographer, Manuel Álvarez Bravo (b. Mexico City, 1902-2002).
Initially self-taught, Álvarez Bravo first picked up a camera as a teenager while working at a government job. His early style was influenced by studying international photographic journals particularly looking at the work of European artists such as Edward Weston and Tina Modotti both of whom he later met.
Through them, he was introduced to Mexico’s avant-garde scene, including Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. His work increasingly began to reflect the influence of homegrown movements such as the Mexican Muralists as well as an interest in identity politics.
By the mid 1930s, Álvarez Bravo was being exhibited alongside contemporaries Henri-Cartier Bresson and Walker Evans and shown in such seminal group exhibitions as Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1940), and the worldwide tour of Edward Steichen’s Family of Man in 1955.
Álvarez Bravo’s sublimely lyrical, yet unsentimentalised images of his beloved Mexico and its people, and his exceptional ability to transform the rituals of everyday life into something fantastical and monumental, have established him as one of the most important figures in 20th century Latin American Photography.
Photopoetry draws on images from the comprehensive book of the same title (Thames and Hudson, 2008) which celebrate the acuity of his eye and his talent for capturing the world around him with evident tenderness and respect for his homeland.