Manuel Álvarez Bravo / México

Mexican photographer, born in Mexico City. He embarked on photography in 1924, taking it up professionally in 1929. His photographs were notable for displaying Mexico as more than the picturesque fantasy presented by European photographers. As Val Williams put it, ‘Bravo’s Mexico was a more complicated place, where the ancient symbolism of blood and death and religion lived uneasily alongside the brave rhetoric of a new progressive state.’ This is clear in two of his best-known photographs, The Striking Worker Assassinated (1934) and Angel of the Earthquake (1957), the image of a shattered statue. Ian Jeffery makes an illuminating comparison to Courbet in his preoccupation with the nature of sentience. Jeffrey writes: ‘he attends to touch, sound, appetite, vision, both in actuality, and in symbol—through patterns of musical instruments, “a box of visions”, the serrated leaves on an agave, feet on stone, treading with care, squirming, balancing’. When Bravo depicts the partial body, as in The Threshold (1947), two bare feet on a marble doorstep, it is not to dehumanize it but to make the sense of physical experience more acute.

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