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Tina Modotti (Italian, 1896–1942)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

Italian photographer, active in Mexico. She emigrated to the USA in 1918 and met Edward Weston in 1921, moving with him to Mexico City in 1923. There he taught her photography. Modotti’s early platinum prints were close-up photographs of still-lifes such as wine glasses, folds of fabric or flowers, as in Calla Lilies (c. 1927; see Constantine, p. 98). She also made prints of finely composed architectural spaces. By 1927, when she joined the Communist Party, she was starting to incorporate more overt social content in her work. She also gave up making expensive and time-consuming platinum prints in favour of silver gelatin prints.

Modotti photographed political events, for example Diego Rivera Addressing a Meeting of the International Red Aid, Mexico (c. 1928; see Constantine, p. 117), as well as bullfights and the circus; she focused on the proud faces and hands of mothers, children, artisans and labourers. She was deported from Mexico for her political activities in 1929; during the next decade she dedicated herself to revolutionary and anti-fascist activities in Russia and Spain and took few photographs. In 1939 she returned to Mexico City. Although Modotti photographed from 1923–32, her work is relatively scarce. There is a large collection at MOMA, New York.

Amy Rule
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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