M A N U E L À L V A R E Z B R A V O
MANUEL ÀLVAREZ BRAVO (b. 1902 d. 2002, Mexico City, Mexico) is generally recognized as the most significant artist in Mexico working in the late 20th century and as one of the great modern masters of the photographic medium. His lyric temperament has elevated many of his images into icons that capture the unexpected combinations of everyday existence in urban and rural Mexico. His lifelong work has lent aesthetic insight into Mexico’s actual and imaginative headwaters of history, landscape, and contemporary reality. Born at the beginning of the 20th century, in the historic center of Mexico City, Álvarez Bravo was influenced early on by the fusion of indigenous tradition and looming modernity. His method and technique began with early formalist constructions or abstract perspectives, then developed into his singular style of the 1930s and 1940s. During these important years he discovered increasingly more complex ways to frame the contradictions of Mexico’s urban and rural life into social statements with a distinct poetic vision. Always mindful of precise composition and metaphor, Álvarez Bravo’s work is rich in mood and spans a wide thematic and formal range. His work is not only about the subject at hand, but often it is an extended meditation on the nature of looking and the medium of photographic reproduction. From his earliest days as a photographer, under the encouragement of such greats as Tina Modotti, Edward Weston, Paul Strand, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, until his last, Álvarez Bravo’s photographs created a concise vision of Mexico as an actual and symbolic landscape peopled with subjects and life forms detained in a dreamworld tableaux of longing, solitude, candor, and foreboding, or as social testimonies to timeliness and possibility.
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