Manuel Alvarez Bravo, ‘The Washerwomen Implied (Las Labanderas Sorbrentendidas)’, 1932/1938-39c, Contemporary Works/Vintage Works

This photograph was exhibited at the "Exposicion Internacional del Surrealismo, Mexico-1940". It was illustrated in the exposition catalogue. The markings on the back correspond to the size and position of the photo in this catalogue. Provenance: Collection of Justino Fernandez. A xerox copy of the catalogue of the exposition with this photo illustrated and listed in the items in the exhibition and a personal invitation to Justino Fernandez for the same exhibition accompanies this photograph. See: Kismaric, Manuel Alverez Bravo, p.104.

Born in Mexico City, the photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo belonged to the artistic avant-garde movement after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). He was the son of an artist’s family and met the German photographer Hugo Brehme in 1923, who introduced him to the world of photography.

Mostly self-taught, Bravo sought contact with like-minded people like Tina Modotti and Edward Weston. He was also closely related to the contemporary art scene in Mexico which included Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and others.

Bravo's first solo exhibition was held in 1932. Only two years later, the young photographer experienced his international breakthrough, when he exhibited his works alongside those of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans at Julien Levy Gallery in New York. In the 1920s, Bravo initially dealt with close-up techniques. The 1930s were mainly inspired by Mexico City and its everyday life. In 1939 André Breton, one of the founders of Surrealism, asked him to provide a photograph for a catalog - the then taken photo of a bandaged female nude is probably one of his most famous works. In 1997, Bravo was subject to a major retrospective show at the MoMA in New York.

This photograph was exhibited at the "Exposicion Internacional del Surrealismo, Mexico-1940".

See: Kismaric, Manuel Alverez Bravo, p.104.

About Manuel Alvarez Bravo

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