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Women Pioneers Mexican Photography 1 ~ REVIEW
November 14, 2015 @ 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Women Pioneers Mexican Photography Exhibition Talk
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2015 at 3pm ~ Art critic Graciela Kartofel, explains the link between Edward Weston, Mexican and Contemporary photography at Throckmorton Art Listen to Graciela Kartofel (expires by 5pm October 11).
To be master, you need to be touched by a master. Italian bohemian Tina Modotti followed Edward Weston on his journeys to Mexico. There they encountered an avant-garde group of artists that included Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and their circle. Modotti worked for Weston, then with Weston, then on her own and some spark was passed between them.
Eventually Weston returned to the States, but Modotti stayed on and got involved with Mexican revolutionaries. When she was exiled from Mexico for her activities, Modotti left her camera with a young man named Manuel Álvarez Bravo.
The spark passed to the man who became the father of Latin American photography and one of the masters. Many women in Bravo’s circle worked for him, with him, and then on their own. That describes most of the artists in this exhibition including Graciela Iturbide. Iturbide now carries the torch as the central genius of Mexican photography. Iturbide is now a global photographer with global influence.
It’s interesting to see in this exhibition how a spark from a master photographer influenced so many and produced a unique fire all its own.
About Women Pioneers Mexican Photography I
This first curatorial selection includes nine female photographers
who do not just reproduce people or objects,
but atmospheric and emotional situations of the times each one lived, and their lives.
~ Spencer Throckmorton
The exhibition highlights how modern Mexico produces world-class fine art, and has been a magnet for intellectuals from around the world.
After the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), artists were intrigued by the opportunity to create a new society out of classical Mexican culture at a time when everything seemed possible. Even within the generally conservative Mexican society, artists expanded boundaries for women, homosexuality, and modernity itself.
This exhibition is a continuing thread in Spencer Throckmorton’s fascination with Mexico as a fountain of culture, creativity, and social experimentation. The Throckmorton Fine Art gallery is one of the world’s major collectors and dealers in Latin American photography and Pre-Colombian art.
The exhibition is accompanied by an excellent hard-cover catalog designed by Norberto L. Rivera.
Women Pioneers Mexican Photography I Review
by Keith September 25, 2015
The big event in New York City yesterday was the visit of Pope Francis to St. Patrick’s. For leaders of New York City’s Mexican community, the other big event was the opening of “Women Pioneers Mexican Photography 1” at Throckmorton Fine Art in Midtown.
Pictures at the exhibition reflected in a Graciela Iturbide photograph
Photographers Cristina Kahlo and Lourdes Almeida mingled and chatted with guests. They told stories about the pictures they made. Both artists, like the art on the walls and the Mexican people themselves, carry a thick umbilical connection with history.
Kahlo is the great-niece of Frida who has risen like a saint from girl to wife to artist to global pop icon. Almeida makes striking portraits.
One of Almeida’s portraits is of a very old Conchera in her Aztec feathered headdress. The Conchero is a traditional dance that emerged in Mexico right after the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. Conchero combines Aztec feathered costumes, dance steps and drums, with Spanish Catholic elements. It was an attempt by people in culture shock to preserve their culture.
Perhaps the 2016 U.S. election circus is our American Conchero, an attempt by people in culture shock to preserve a lost supremacy, a way of life that is already gone forever.
The artists in “Women Pioneers Mexican Photography I” see a strikingly different future.
The Past, the Present…
The photographs in the exhibition range from 1924 to 2013. If you have a Mexican heritage, these are pictures of home. If you have an American Southwest heritage, these also feel like pictures of home. If you are over 50 years old, there are deep memories in these pictures. These artists have documented ways of life that are fading like an old photograph.
That makes these images treasures. They are even more so because all are film photographers, not digital. When we noted the difference to gallery Director Kraige Block, he smiled and said, “There is a difference. It’s called art.”
Spencer Throckmorton contemplates art
Some of the work has a folkloric feel. Some of it is absolutely modern. All the pieces share deep compositional strength. Some are absolutely surreal. Lola Alvarez Bravo’s “Some Climb and Others Descend, Mexico City” (1940) is textbook Surrealism. Much of Kati Horna’s work has the look of a dream. Realizing that the feet in Colette Urbajtel’s “Vestido de feista” (Festival dress) are not a woman’s, but a cow’s made me laugh inside.
Tina Modotti’s work from the 1920s carries great weight. In her “Hands resting on a shovel” (1926) the shovel handle feels like a third hand from Mother Earth herself reaching up for a handshake.
A visitor commented that some of the photographs have the look of paintings. In typical fashion, Graciela Iturbide’s work transforms simple scenes of Mexican life into the sublime. An untitled piece (2008) shows the corona from a Virgin of Guadalupe without the figure. It is unmistakably Mexican, but nobody ever showed it this way.
The odd stare of Cristina Kahlo’s masked ranchero character “Carnual de Huejotzingo” (2011) attracts the eye and begs the questions of what does the mask represent and who is behind it? Is the wearer Mexican, Native, African, European, man or woman?
That brings us to the exhibition’s central theme ~ woman. Many of the subjects are women. These are women photographers, not all Mexican, but women working in Mexico. Much of this work was done in a time and social context where Mexican women did not go and make art careers. They stayed home and cared for the children. That makes these images even more exceptional.
Someone said that if you could choose your mother, you should chose a Latina. Mariana Yampolsky’s “Caricia / Caress” (1989) perfectly captures the spirit of woman and motherly love. The highlights in the mother’s sea of long flowing hair, her ruffled arm and open hand in protective caress, and the love in her face are worthy of sainthood.
…And the Future
We were joined by Carlos Gerardo Izzo, the Mexican Consul for Press and Public Affairs. There was Argentine art critic and curator Graciela Kartofel who helped organize the exhibition. Among the crowd was Annabella Gonzalez, a Mexican-American pioneer of Modern Dance in New York City, and Juan Castaño the director of Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, New York City’s leading Mexican Folkloric dance company.
Director Juan Castaño and a Calpulli Mexican Dance Company dancer with Ximena Ojeda
On this day in New York City, there was no avoiding the fact that a Latin American leader of a Latin European religion was in the City. The Argentine Pope Francis sees riches in loving nature and all it’s people. Interestingly, the Latin artists in “Women Pioneers Mexican Photography I” at Throckmorton Fine Art see exactly the same thing.
Graciela Kartofel, Cristina Kahlo, Lourdes Almeida, Ximena Ojeda, and Consul Carlos Gerardo Izzo
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