Essay on The Life of Artist Tina Modotti

Essay on The Life of Artist Tina Modotti

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In late spring of 1926, the National Autonomous University of Mexico offered Modotti’s friend and (soon-to-be-famous) author, Anita Brenner, a contract for a book entitled Mexican Decorative Arts. Brenner was an integral figure in Modotti’s artist and bohemian group in Mexico City in the 1920s. A Mexican born, Texas-educated journalist, she returned to Mexico and became a key member of the indigenismo movement in the 1920s, as well as a leftist radical (Albers SFS 127). She immediately recruited Edward Weston as the project photographer for the book. Weston insisted that Brenner assign Modotti to the project as his partner. In the book, Brenner sought to provide American readers an accessible look (she wrote the book in English) at the realities of the Mexican Revolution. It was to have three sections: the syncretism of pre-Hispanic and Catholic beliefs and practices, popular arts and religion of the Mexican Colonial period, and the Mexican Renaissance artists: the tres grandes, Muralists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siquieros, as well as Francisco Goitia, and Jean Charlot, all of whom were friends or acquaintances of Weston and Modotti. Brenner also planned a second book, The Mexican Renaissance. She eventually consolidated the two books into Idols Behind Altars, The Story of the Mexican Spirit, published in 1929 (Albers DV 31).
Brenner hired Modotti and Weston to create 200 photographs of items and architecture throughout Mexico, at places indicated by Brenner. To Brenner the assignment offered a religious portfolio of what Mexican life was and is. Some of the arts and crafts Brenner proposed to be photographed comprised carved polychrome Madonnas, colonial era ex-votos, painted calabashes, Catholic a...


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...nd Revolutionary, Pandora, HarperCollins
Publishers, London, 1993.
Krauze, Enrique, Translated by Hank Heifetz, Mexico: Biography of Power, A History of
Modern Mexico 1810-1996, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., New York, 1997.
Lowe, Sarah M., Tina Modotti: Photographs, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Philadelphia Museum
of Art, New York, 1995.
Mulvey, Laura and Wollen, Peter, Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti, The Whitechapel Art
Gallery, Great Britain, 1982.
Newhall, Nancy, Editor, The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Volume I: Mexico, George
Eastman House, New York, 1989.
48
Noble, Andrea, Tina Modotti: Image, Texture, Photography, University of New Mexico
Press, Albuquerque, 2000.
Stark, Amy, "The Letters From Tina Modotti to Edward Weston", The Archive, Center for
Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Research Series, Number 22, January,
1986.

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