Luis M. Castañeda
Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1975
Manuel Álvarez Bravo initially photographed abstract paper forms, but became known for capturing the rise of a post-revolutionary modern culture in his native Mexico. Encouraged to pursue his art by an admiring Edward Weston, Álvarez Bravo photographed what he saw around him, his unique perspective adding a poetic quality to the quotidian scenes. The Great Penitent (1930), for instance, captures a woman lying face down on a sidewalk in front of a church; shot from a bird’s eye view, electrical wires run through the frame and the heads of the saints adorning the building have been cut out, lending the image a striking visual composition and intellectual complexity. Álvarez Bravo also flirted with Surrealism without fully embracing it, shooting real yet uncanny subjects, such as an optical store plastered with eye illustrations (Optical Parable, 1931).
Mexican, 1902-2002, Mexico City, Mexico