Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tina Modotti

  1. An Extraordinary Photographer
    Tina Modotti was an extraordinary woman who at various times was an actress (both on stage and in Hollywood), revolutionary, a professional portrait studio photographer with Edward Weston, an early fine art photographer commissioned by the government of Mexico, lover and subject of Edward Weston, lover and subject of Diego Rivera (Mexican artist famous for his murals in Mexico and in the USA), lover of several other prominent political revolutionaries, and a friend of Frida Kahlo.
    I write “lover” here to reflect the closeness of her relationships with these other artists and the revolutionary leaders. She was not just an acquaintance or friend. Unfortunately, “lover of famous men” has been how she was remembered for many years. She was more than that.
    Her status has been rising since the 1990s as her work has been “rediscovered” and her work as a photographer has been better appreciated. She was multi-talented, highly intelligent, independent, liberated, multi-lingual (she spoke four languages), ambitious, driven, and vibrant. I have no doubt that her famous lovers and the other men and women she met looked at her as more than just a pretty face. They were probably captivated by her extraordinary personality, passion for life and politics, her artistic talents, as well as her “Hollywood looks.”

    She led a very eventful and extraordinary life and was considered part of the avant garde artist community in Mexico during the 1920s. While she was committed and evidently loved the people of Mexico, she was eventually imprisoned and then deported from Mexico as an “enemy of the state.”
    I admire her passion for life and her photographs, especially her compositions of hands and still life. In 1991, one of her photographs (Roses) was sold at auction at Sotheby’s and was at that time the most expensive photo sold at auction with a price of $167,000. She made that photo when she was just 28 years old and had only been photographing seriously for about a year at the time she made it! Steadman Uhlich

    Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti.
    Great artists (Frida a painter, Tina a photographer), political activists, communists, friends, companions, revolutionaries. In August 1929, Modotti hosted Frida’s wedding to painter Diego Rivera.
    I wonder what would have happened if they had had been reunited when Modotti returned to México in 1942… if she hadn’t died that same year…

  2. Stanko Abadžic - Homage for Tina Modotti, 2006

    There is a better world
    Well, there must be.
    Asleep - The Smiths

  3. A Silvia z”l
    Tina Modotti by Edward Weston (1925)

    Tina Modotti, Marching peasants, Mexico, 1926
    ‘I cannot accept life as it is - it is too chaotic - too unconscious - therefore my resistance to it - my combat with it - I am forever struggling to mould life according to my temperament and needs - in other words, I put too much art in my life’ -Tina Modotti


    Tina Modotti with her arms raised - Edward Weston

    Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in the May Day March
    Photo by Tina Modotti 1929

      Portrait of Tina Modotti

    Tina Modotti, Convent of Tepotzotlán, Mexico, 1924
    SFMOMA’s Open Space blog’s Collection Rotation series invited Anne Bast Davis, curatorial assistant in the Painting and Sculpture, to create a mini “exhibition.” For this edition, Davis finds inspiration in the photographs of Tina Modotti. To take a look, click here.

         Easter Lilly and bud, 1925, by Tina Modotti

    Mexico 1929
    Photo: Tina Modotti
    Tina Modotti, Mother & Child, Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, 1929.

    Tina Modotti, Men Reading El Machete, 1924.

    Tina Modotti durante la reconstrucción del asesinato de Mella. 1929.

    La máquina de Juan Antonio Mella. Tina Modotti, 1928.

    Tina Modotti (August 16 (or 17) 1896 – January 5, 1942) was an Italian photographer, model, actress, and revolutionary political activist.
    In general, Edward Weston was moved by the landscape and folk art of Mexico to create abstract works, while Modotti was more captivated by the people of Mexico and blended this human interest with a modernist aesthetic. In Mexico, Modotti found a community of cultural and political “avant-gardists”. She became the photographer of choice for the blossoming Mexican mural movement, documenting the works of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Her visual vocabulary matured during this period, such as her formal experiments with architectural interiors, flowers, and urban landscapes, and especially in her many lyrical images of peasants and workers. Indeed, her one-woman retrospective exhibition at the National Library in December 1929 was advertised as “The First Revolutionary Photographic Exhibition In Mexico”.
    Modotti and Weston quickly gravitated toward the capital’s bohemian scene, and used their connections to create an expanding portrait business. It was also during this time that Modotti met several political radicals and Communists, including three Mexican Communist Party leaders who would all eventually become romantically linked with Modotti: Xavier GuerreroJulio Antonio Mella, and Vittorio Vidali.
    Modotti’s work was rediscovered in the United States when 90 vintage prints were exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1996. Martha Chahroudi, the museum’s curator of photography, organized the exhibit. In order to raise funds for the show, the singer Madonna auctioned off her 1963 Mercedes-Benz. Madonna has become a major collector of Modotti’s work. Prior to the presentation of her work in the U.S., Modotti’s photographs have been shown in Italy, Poland, Germany, Austria, and other countries. The largest exhibition of her work opened at Kunst Haus Wien in Vienna on June 30, 2010. It presented 250 photographs, many never shown before. The exhibition is based on the collections of Galerie Bilderwelt, Berlin and Spencer Throckmorton, NYC and curated by Reinhard Schultz.