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News — Mexican Images Take Center Stage

RELEASED August 6, 2013

SAN MARCOS, TX—The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University in San Marcos recently opened two new exhibitions drawn from their significant holdings of Mexico-focused photography. Manuel Álvarez Bravo runs through December 1, 2013; México lindo runs through December 13, 2013.

Both the Manuel Álvarez Bravo and México lindo exhibitions were curated by Carla Ellard, curator of the Wittliff’s Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection.

Maguey Mazahua, © 1989, by Mariana Yampolsky
Maguey Mazahua, © 1989, Mariana Yampolsky


México lindo runs through December 13, 2013.

Titled in tribute to the famous song “México lindo y querido”—whose lyrics evoke a love of the homeland—this exhibition celebrates the beauty of Mexico as seen through both native and foreign eyes. A survey of more than 100 photographs drawn from the Wittliff’s permanent holdings, México lindo explores subjects that illuminate the diversity of the country’s landscapes, speak to the dignity of the individual, and reveal the importance of family, community, tradition, and faith. Images by 49 camera artists represent a variety of printing techniques, from traditional to digital.

More than 50 of the photographs are on the walls of the Wittliff Collections for the first time. Among them are works by leading Mexican photojournalists and documentarians Alicia Ahumada, Yolanda Andrade, José Ángel Rodríguez, Lizeth Arauz Velasco, Marco Antonio Cruz, Maya Goded, Eniac Martínez, Rodrigo Moya, and Antonio Turok. With courage and expertise, they translate historic and culture-centric moments into intimately knowable human experience.

Mexican masters who have impacted the history of the medium add strength and weight to the show. Of note are Lola Álvarez Bravo, one of the first women in her field; Héctor García, a photojournalist whose work and style influenced a new generation of photographers; and Lázaro Blanco, an esteemed photography critic and teacher.

Renowned fine-art photographers who traveled to Mexico during the Mexican Renaissance, the period following the Mexican Revolution, are represented by Tina Modotti, Paul Strand, and Edward Weston. Henri Cartier-Bresson’s image Los Remedios, taken in 1963, is also on view.

The dates of prints in México lindo span 100 years. The earliest photographs on view are a platinum series by pictorialist Joseph Keiley taken in 1901. Additional early to mid 20th-century images of Mexico are by German-born photographers Guillermo Kahlo and Hugo Brehme, and folkloric portraitist Luis Márquez. Rocky Schenck’s 52" x 35" hand-tinted Mexican landscape, part of his new color work, is the most recent picture in the show, made in 2012.

Kate Breakey, Keith Carter, Graciela Iturbide, Josephine Sacabo, Rocky Schenck, Bill Wittliff, and Mariana Yampolsky—all with monographs published in the Wittliff Collections’ photography series with the University of Texas—have work included in the exhibition. Carter’s photographs include an image from early in his career, Angelitas. Bill Wittliff’s new series, also titled México lindo, reveals a deep admiration for the people and culture of Mexico. Works by Iturbide, who studied under Manuel Álvarez Bravo and is now a highly acclaimed artistic force in her own right, were selected from the world’s major holding of her photographs—which is at the Wittliff.

Photographers John Christian, Kitty Alice Snead, and Richard Speedy have long been inspired by the indigenous cultures of Mexico, such as the Tarahumara and the Huichol. Border images on view by Joel Salcido and Miguel Gandert were taken in Juarez. Among the landscapes and street scenes are images by Faustinus Dereat, Robin Renee Hix, Robb Kendrick, George Miller, and Geoff Winningham,

The faith of the Mexican people is illustrated in works from Byron Brauchli, Dennis Darling, Flor Garduño, Jesse Herrera, and Mary Ellen Mark, among others. Color portraits by Alinka Echeverría from her 2010 Road to Tepeyac series individualize three of the more than six million pilgrims who travel to the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe each year.

México lindo runs through December 13, 2013. 

El ensueño (The Daydream), © 1931, by Manuel Álvarez Bravo
El ensueño (The Daydream), © 1931, Manuel Álvarez Bravo


The Wittliff’s Manuel Álvarez Bravo exhibition is on view through December 1, 2013.

This is the first time the Wittliff has mounted a solo exhibition of its prints by one of the founders of modern photography, Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902–2002). After 20 years of collecting, the Wittliff presents over 50 signed vintage and modern prints taken by Álvarez Bravo over the course of 70 years. Included among the his renowned images are: Bicicletas en domingo (Bicycles on Sunday); Caja de visiones (Box of Visions); El ensueño (The Daydream); Obrero en huelga, asesinado (Striking Worker, Murdered); Parábola óptica (Optical Parable); and Retrato de lo eterno (Portrait of the Eternal).

Considered Mexico’s first artistic photographer, Álvarez Bravo is perhaps the most important and influential figure in 20th-century Latin American photography. His images are masterpieces of post-revolutionary Mexico, composed with avant-garde and surreal aesthetics that resonate with stylized vision. Álvarez Bravo’s signature landscapes, portraits, and nudes translate reality into dream-like moments that have become iconic.

Born in 1902 in Mexico City into a family that supported the arts, Manuel Álvarez Bravo learned photography largely on his own but was encouraged by other well-known photographers, including Hugo Brehme, Tina Modotti, and Edward Weston, as well as the French surrealist writer André Breton. Álvarez Bravo’s art—which matured into a transcendence of culture, time, and place—was inspired by the times, during post-Revolutionary Mexico when Mexico City flourished as one of the major creative and intellectual centers of the world. In 1955, Edward Steichen included his work in the landmark exhibition The Family of Man for the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Álvarez Bravo’s imagery has been featured in over 150 solo exhibitions, and he garnered many honors throughout his career.

The interests of “Don Manuel,” as he was called, went beyond his own photographic work, and his influence was far-reaching. He co-founded the Mexican Foundation for Publishing in the Plastic Arts devoted to books about Mexican art, planned the Mexican Museum of Photography in Mexico City, and mentored and befriended a great many younger, emerging photographers and artists in Mexico. He died at the age of 100 in October 2002.

On view in addition to the Álvarez Bravo photographs are portraits of him by Graciela Iturbide, Rodrigo Moya, and Bill Wittliff. The poem Facing Time, an ode to Álvarez Bravo’s work by Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz, is featured among other supplementary materials. Paz, a collaborator and friend of Álvarez Bravo’s, describes the photographer’s vision as “the arrow of the eye / dead center / in the target of the moment.”

The Wittliff’s Manuel Álvarez Bravo exhibition is on view through December 1, 2013.