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News Release — March 8, 2012

Timeless Mexico: exhibition reception + book party

Timeless Mexico: The Photographs of Hugo Brehme exhibition reception and book party features  SUSAN TOOMEY FROST  

On Saturday, March 24, 2012, the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos will host an exhibition reception and book party celebrating Timeless Mexico: The Photographs of Hugo Brehme. The book is the newest monograph in the Wittliff’s Southwestern & Mexican Photography series published by the University of Texas Press. A longtime Brehme expert and the book’s author Susan Toomey Frost generously donated her major Brehme collection—more than 1,800 postcards and other photographs as well as an extensive collection of books, magazines, and ephemera—to the Wittliff in 2009.

The exhibition reception and book party begins at 7:00 p.m. on March 24. A cash bar will be available and hors d’oeuvres will be served. The evening will feature a program with guest speakers Susan Frost and Dennis Brehme, grandson of Hugo Brehme. Timeless Mexico books will be sold, and a signing with Frost, Brehme, and the author of the foreword, art historian Stella de Sá Rego, will follow the program.

More than 120 of Brehme’s masterful works, including real photo postcards and hand-tinted photographs, are on view through August 5, 2012 in an exhibition curated by Carla Ellard with assistance from Ken Fontenot.


One of Mexico’s first modern photographers, Hugo Brehme (1882–1954) created an idyllic vision of the country that influenced photography, film, and literature for a hundred years. His beautifully composed and timeless images of lo mexicano—cacti and pyramids, snow-capped volcanoes, colonial buildings, and scenes of the daily life of the Mexican people—were widely distributed and acclaimed both in Mexico and abroad.

Having studied photography in his native Germany, Brehme traveled to Mexico in his early twenties and began a lifelong engagement with the country. Brehme opened his first photography studio in Mexico City in 1912, and he remained in business for over 40 years. Identifying himself as a fine-art photographer, Brehme created postcards printed on photographic papers with a variety of tones and finishes, giving each print a richness and complexity. He was also a skilled entrepreneur, publishing photographic Christmas cards as well as souvenir booklets of picture postcards that tourists could tear out and mail.

Although aware of his adopted country’s problems, Brehme chose to present what was beautiful and distinctive about Mexico. Working there until his death in 1954, Brehme was a significant influence on Golden Age filmmakers Gabriel Figueroa and Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, and an early mentor to Mexico’s most famous photographer, Manuel Álvarez Bravo.


Susan Toomey Frost is a leading authority on Mexican and Guatemalan photographic postcards. She also collects San Jose decorative tiles and pottery, and works on paper by Mexican artists. With degrees from UT Austin in English and Linguistics, where she was a Ford Foundation Fellow, Frost has been a full-time faculty member and guest lecturer at universities in Texas and Mexico, where she lived for six years. She continues to lecture to historic preservation and other groups, and she curates or lends to exhibitions.

Frost’s articles and photographs have been published in the United States, Mexico, and Germany. She has appeared on PBS in “Collecting Across America” and on HGTV in “If Walls Could Talk,” and she shares her research articles on San José tile and the postcard photographers online at Her first monograph, Colors on Clay: The San José Tile Workshops of San Antonio, received the Texas State Historical Association’s award for the best illustrated book published in 2009 on Texas history and culture. The book, published by Trinity University Press in 2009, also won a publication award from the San Antonio Conservation Society. Susan Toomey Frost lives in San Antonio.