FUNDACION MAPFRE presents Manuel Álvarez Bravo photographs exhibition

FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE is presenting a retrospective of the Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902–2002), one of the founding fathers of modern photography in Mexico, on view 19 May 2013.

Manuel Alvarez BravoManuel Álvarez Bravo, La hija de los danzantes (The Daughter of the Dancers), 1933. Gelatin silver print. © Colette Urbajtel / Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, S. C.

Taken over the course of eight decades, Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s photographs offer a vital insight into 20th-century Mexico. Beyond their associations with the folk culture of an exotic land, the political rhetoric of muralism and Surrealist aesthetics, his fascinating and complex images are a reflection of the sweeping changes ushered in by the Mexican Revolution of 1910: the progressive abandonment of rural life and traditional customs, the rise of a post-revolutionary culture with international influences, and the adoption of a modern culture that revolved around the whirlwind of the big city.

Rooted in Mexican folk sensibility yet maintaining a modern outlook, the work of Álvarez Bravo is an individual, autonomous and internally coherent discourse. Drawing inspiration from painting, works on paper, literature, music and, above all, film—the quintessential art form of his day—Álvarez Bravo’s oeuvre can be interpreted as the quest for photography as art. It is an interrogatory mission that explores the relationships between image and language, bodies and objects.

This exhibition examines Álvarez Bravo’s work from a different perspective. In addition to the iconic photographs for which he is renowned, the show includes experimental images from his archive that have never previously been exhibited: colour and Polaroid negatives, and experimental film footage from the 1960s. The selection sheds light on little-known yet crucial aspects of his photography, such as the iconographic motifs that appear time and time again in his images, revealing a structure and intent far removed from the randomness of Mexican “marvellous reality.”

Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s imagery, at once disconcerting and poetic, is a Mexican contribution to the language of modern photography. His work proves that modern art is a multiple construction arising from a wide variety of standpoints, poetics and cultural contexts.

The show is organised around eight themes, and features 152 photographs that attest to the tenacity and coherence of Álvarez Bravo’s creative development. These are accompanied by five experimental films (in 8mm and Super 8), never previously screened in public, which offer examples of his work in this genre and illustrate his relationship with cinematography over more than 50 years. Finally, the exhibition also includes documents such as his notebooks, work sheets and correspondence with prominent figures such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen.

Avenida General Perón, 40
28020 Madrid
Hours: Monday 2–9pm
Tuesday–Saturday 10am–9pm
Sundays and bank holidays 12–8pm
Free entrance
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