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Toledo Museum of Art Explores Mexican Modernist Photography
TOLEDO.-The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) opened the exhibition Lola Alvarez Bravo and Her Circle. This free exhibition presents photographs from Throckmorton Fine Art in New York, along with photographs from the TMA collection, that explore the intellectual and artistic ferment in Mexico in the 1930s and 1940s.

When Lola Alvarez Bravo (1903–1993) and her husband, Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902–2002), first took up photography in the late 1920s, Mexico’s new socialist government was promoting intellectual freedom and a greater role for the arts. This attracted many influential photographers from Europe and the US including Tina Modotti (1896–1942), Paul Strand (1890–1976), Edward Weston (1886–1958), and many others. Mariana Yamplosky (1925-2002) was Lola’s bestknown student and is also included within this circle for her photographic portraits of Mexican village life. These artists were free to explore endless possibilities in their work, escaping conventional methods of expression and in turn making major contributions to the Mexican Modernist movement.

She was born Dolores Martinez de Anda to wealthy parents in the state of Jalisco. She moved to Mexico City as a young child, after her mother left the family under mysterious circumstances. Her father died when she was a young teenager, and she was then sent to live with the family of her half brother, living nearby in Mexico City. It was here that she met the young Manuel Alvarez Bravo, a neighbor. They married in 1925 and moved to Oaxaca where Manuel was an accountant for the federal government. Lola became pregnant but before she gave birth, they returned to Mexico City.

Manuel had taken up photography as an adolescent; he taught Lola and they took pictures together in Oaxaca. Manuel also taught Lola how to develop film and make prints in the darkroom. As he became more serious about pursuing a career in photography, she acted as his assistant, although she also harbored a desire to become a photographer in her own right. The Alvarez Bravo's separated in 1934 but she decided to maintain the Alvarez Bravo name.

Lola needed to support herself and taught as well as worked in a government archives. But she also continued to experiment with photography and in 1936 received her first real commission photographing the colonial choir stalls of a former church.

Inspired by such photographers as Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, Lola established a successful independent career. For 50 years, she photographed a wide variety of subjects, making documentary images of daily life in Mexico's villages and city streets and portraits of great leaders from various countries. She also experimented with photomontage.

She also taught photography at the prestigious Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City.

This group of photographs by Lola Alvarez Bravo and her close circle of friends highlights the diverse artistic perspectives and visual innovations born during this highly creative period in post-revolutionary Mexico.



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