Valdir Cruz ~ Guarapuava

Valdir Cruz ~ Guarapuava is an exhibition of photographs and release of the book by the Brazilian photographer and Guggenheim Fellow Valdir Cruz at Throckmorton Fine Art.

Brazilian-American Culture

Throckmorton Fine Art

145 East 57th Street, 3rd Floor in Midtown East

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August 21, 2014 by Keith Widyolar

Valdir Cruz ~ Guarapuava is an exhibition of photographs accompanied by the release of the book Guarapuava by the Brazilian photographer and Guggenheim Fellow Valdir Cruz. The exhibition is on view and the book can be purchased at Throckmorton Fine Art in New York City from September 19 to November 1st, 2014.


Valdir Cruz ~ Guarapuava

Guarapuava is a series of portraits and landscapes made over 30 years from visits to the photographer’s home town of Guarapuava in Parana state of Southern Brazil.

Valdir Cruz is a Brazilian New Yorker who came to the United States in 1978 and first returned to his hometown in 1982. Valdir was chosen for this work while working on his American dream at a metal shop in New Jersey.

One night at a jazz club in the West Village in 1981, a photographer friend (George Stone) saw something in Valdir and asked if he had any interest in photography. The very next day Stone bought Valdir his first camera.

In 1985, Valdir met the American photographer George Tice who mentored the young artist by having him make prints from original negatives of Edward Steichen. Steichen is remembered for making the first modern fashion photographs.

In 1994 Valdir had the chance to make portraits of indigenous leaders from the Brazilian Amazon in his West Village studio. One of them was David Kopenawa Yanomami, a shaman and community leader of the Yanomami people of Brazil and Venezuela. Yanomami also saw something in Cruz and extended the extraordinary invitation to visit his rainforest home and photograph his people.

Shaman is one who sees, who heals the people, and guides them through all the phases of life. David Yanomami chose Valdir Cruz to be shaman for his way of seeing through his memories, his camera, and his hands.



Guarapuava is a place where the old ways of life remain until today. If you or your parents grew up in the forest or jungle somewhere in the world, you may recognize these people, the landscapes and their way of life. It’s the kind of place where as a boy Cruz made bird cages by hand after burning an old tire to get the wire out.

"Mulher Cigana I" (Gypsy Woman I), 1991
"Pinus Araucaria," 1991
"Chico Tropeiro" (Young Gaucho), 1990
"Catador de Batatas" (Potato Farmer), 1990
"Quilombo Campina Dos Morenos I", 1994
"Mãos" (Hands), 2003
"Tropeada I," 1990

Valdir is a master printer in black and white. His prints have that smokey ethereal quality that only exists in between the discrete shades of gray of a computerized image. Cruz makes his prints himself in his West Village studio. No matter how you slice it, you cannot print like this through digital photography.

Valdir’s portraits are the rare kind of portrait where the subject’s spirit and details of their life story leap out of the image through their eyes and into your mind. It is the type of photography that can only be made through great trust and understanding between the photographer and subject.

Part of the series is a memorable set of images of gauchos at work and rest. Gauchos are the cowboys of the pampa grasslands of Southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.

The work is at once deeply personal and absolutely universal. Art dealer Spencer Throckmorton says of the work, “Cruz’s exquisite photographic essay on Guarapuava, the photographer’s hometown, bears out Tolstoy’s observation that to be universal one only needs to talk about his own village. With unremitting devotion, Cruz has chronicled the lives and lifestyles of this ephemeral and evocative place. The images are the result of his close investigation of its people and landscapes.”

Cruz has made a timeless series of photographs of the farmers and gauchos and rivers and hills that populate his boyhood memories. You don’t have to be Brazilian or from the forest to get the strongest feeling from Valdir Cruz ~ Guarapuava that these are your people and this is your land.


Valdir Cruz Studio Visit

Valdir was kind enough to welcome New York Latin Culture into his studio to discuss his latest book and exhibition Guarapuava.

Ximena enters Valdir's West Village studio through the red door
Valdir Cruz is a documentary photographer who makes books about Brazil and its people
Valdir's studio is an urban jungle. You can see the new World Trade Center in the distance.
This is the spot where Valdir made David Kopenawa Yanomami's portrait and David invited Valdir to his jungle home
Ximena listens to Valdir talk about his life
Valdir contemplates one of his most cherished treasures, a sacred gift from the shaman
Valdir thinks back on 30 years of making prints in this room, sometimes for days on end
Valdir keeps inspirations on his darkroom door
Ezequiel Manfrin of Brazilian gaucho steakhouse Fogo de Chão welcomes Valdir
Valdir signs his latest book "Guarapuava"

Photos by Keith

EVENT IMAGE: Mulher Cigana I (Gypsy Woman I) by Valdir Cruz, 1991. Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art.

New York Latin Culture™ is the Concierge Guide to world-class Latin European and Latin American culture in New York City.

Throckmorton Fine Art


About Throckmorton Fine Art

Throckmorton Fine Art is the premier dealer offering vintage and contemporary Latin American photography, Pre-Columbian art, Chinese jades and Tribal art. The gallery participates in internationally acclaimed fairs, including The Winter Antiques Show in New York each January, AIPAD and during March offers Chinese Jades during ASIA WEEK.

The gallery’s commitment to connoisseurship is underscored by its sales to such major museums as The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Getty and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, along with the Reina Sofia in Madrid. Portions of collections the gallery was instrumental in forming have been donated to the Louvre. The gallery loans examples on a regular basis to such significant institutions as the National Gallery in London.

Spencer Throckmorton and Gallery Director Kraige Block are recognized for their extraordinary photography collection including strong works of museum quality by luminaries such as Tina Modotti, Manual Alvarez Bravo, Edward Weston and Martin Chambi, among many talents they have supported in the past quarter century.


Frida Kahlo Mirror Mirror… at Throckmorton Fine Art May 21 – September 12, 2015

This exhibition of photographs of Frida Kahlo by world-renowned photographers and artists of her inner circle turns Throckmorton Fine Art into a temple of contemplation about what it is to be an artist, a woman, Native American, European, Jewish, and a pop culture icon for all Americans.

About Frida Kahlo Mirror Mirror…

Throckmorton Fine Art web site


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