The career of Manuel Alvarez Bravo (b. 1902) spans many decades and reflects numerous changes in artistic fashion. A self-taught photographer, he purchased his first camera at the age of twenty, and around 1925 he won first prize in a photographic competition in Oaxaca. He returned to his birthplace of Mexico City and in 1927 met Tina Modotti, who introduced him to many Modernists in the city's lively art scene. Among them was Edward Weston, who encouraged Alvarez Bravo to continue his photography. Though his work went unrecognized in mainstream art circles for years, he is now considered by many to be one of Mexico's great artists.
The J. Paul Getty Museum's collection of photographs includes more than ninety by Alvarez Bravo, and approximately fifty are reproduced here with commentary on each image by Roberto Tejada, an independent curator and critic, who also provides an introduction to the book and a chronological overview of the artist's life. The photographs reproduced display the array of styles, themes, and moods that typify art created in Mexico during the 1930s as Modernism first flowered in that country; they also include examples of his work from later decades.
In Focus: Manuel Alvarez Bravo was published to coincide with an exhibition of his photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum on view November 13, 2001 through February 17, 2002, commemorating the artist's 100th birthday on February 4th.
This book also includes an edited transcript of a colloquium on Alvarez Bravo's career with participants David Featherstone, independent editor and curator; Colette Alvarez Urbajtel, the photographer's wife and herself a practicing photographer; Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, photographer and independent curator; Charles Merewether, collections curator at the Getty Research Institute; Cristina Cuevas-Wolf, independent scholar; Weston Naef, curator emeritus of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum; Susan Kismaric, curator of photographs at the Museum of Modern Art, and Roberto Tejada.
"In a time when the moving images available on local silver screens assault and insult one's intelligence, it's a pleasure to stumble across the story of a still photographer and view his 80-year-long evolution."
—Palos Verdes Peninsula News