Everyday Theatre – new photography exhibition featuring Manuel Álvarez Bravo

Manuel Álvarez Bravo
(Image credit: Manuel Álvarez Bravo)

The work of the celebrated 20th Century photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo is to appear in a new exhibition at The Photographers Gallery. 'Everyday Theatre' will showcase a selection of rare lifetime prints from the late photographer who is best known for his modernism approach to photography.

Considered one of the most important figures in Latin photography, Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s career began when he was just a teenager. Until 1923 when he came into contact with Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, Álvarez Bravo was largely self-taught. He would later be introduced to fellow Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo who appear in many of his images.

Álvarez Bravo was a highly technical photographer who favored the platinum printing process, which was introduced to him in 1928 by Modotti. Despite his passion for the process and the tones it produced, chemicals were hard to get hold of and he had to abandon it for a large portion of his career. It wasn't until the 1970s that he was able to easily obtain the right materials but after that, it was his focus for the rest of his life. 

Espejo negro, 1947. Silver gelatin print (Image credit: © Estate of Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Courtesy The Photographers’ Gallery.)

Inspired by the European artistic movement, his surroundings and the people who lived in Mexico, his work often explored the cultural and political push to redefine Mexican identity. His work is deeply rooted in Mexican culture, using modernism, social documentary, surrealist experimentation and interesting arrangements as a way of expression. His trademark was capturing ordinary scenes with surreal influences that may be through how the subject is posed, where it's shot or how it's composed posed.

During his vibrant 70-year long career, Álvarez Bravo worked in Mexican cinema, took part in major exhibitions alongside Henri Cartier Bresson and founded the Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana publishing house. He’s won several awards for his photographic work, mostly after the 1970s, and in 2017 he was posthumously recognized by the UNESCO Memory of the World registry.

From 24 March to 22 May 2022, this special exhibition will take place at The Photographers Gallery, London, England – a gallery with which he had an important and longstanding relationship. Many of his prints will also be up for sale, giving photography collectors the chance to own a slice of modernist history. General admission is just £5 (approximately $6.50 / AU$9) for adults and £2.50 ($3.20 / AU$4.50) for concessions or you can visit the gallery for free on a Friday evening between 18:00 and 20:00.

Ensayo de danza, 1920s. Platinum Print (Image credit: Manuel Álvarez Bravo)

Frida Kahlo con globo, 1938. Silver gelatin print. (Image credit: © Estate of Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Courtesy The Photographers’ Gallery.)

El umbral, c.1933. Platinum print (Image credit: © Estate of Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Courtesy The Photographers’ Gallery.)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.