Manuel Alvarez Bravo, El Ensueño (The Daydream), 1931, Gelatin silver print, 9.4 x 7.2".
Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Trabajadores del Fuego, (the fire workers), 1934, Silver gelatin print, 8 x 10".
2525 Michigan Avenue
Manuel Álvarez Bravo:
Ojos en los ojos,
The Eyes in His Eyes
September 15-October 31, 2007
RoseGallery presents an exhibition of photographs by Manuel Álvarez Bravo to coincide with the publication of his most recent monograph of primarily unpublished and rarely seen images, Ojos en los ojos, The Eyes in His Eyes [RoseGallery & D.A.P. 2007]. This exceptional collection of prints represents an Álvarez Bravo whose creative output can be distinguished by a virtuosity and daring characteristic of contemporary photographers of a much later generation than his own. Excavated from the artist’s archives during the final years of his life, the images brought together for this exhibition bring to light parts of a whole that remained, for whatever reason, unpublished or neglected. Together, they reawaken a legacy that continues to generate surprises that magnify still further, the gift of the artist’s genius, and his willingness to dwell in the imaginative event.
Manuel Álvarez Bravo 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. An impassioned and 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. Not only about the subject at hand, his work is often 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, and Edward Weston, 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 dream world tableaux of longing, solitude, candor, and foreboding, or as social testimonies to timeliness and possibility.
The accomplishments of Álvarez Bravo are incredibly vast and diverse. In the 1930’s his work graced the cover of the seminal Surrealist journal Minotaure, published by the icon of the movement, André Breton. He collaborated with film mavericks John Ford and Luis Buñuel, in the 1940’s and 50’s, and exhibited work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, while still in his thirties. Retrospectives of his photographs have been held at institutions such as MOMA, New York, the Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, and the Kunsthal, Rotterdam. His work is found in permanent collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Biblioteca Nacional, Paris, The Art Institute of Chicago, Museo de Arte Moderno, Kyoto, George Eastman House, Rochester, and MOMA, New York to name a few.