Tina Modotti, female photographer and political activist.

5 January 2022 will mark the 80th anniversary of Tina Modotti's death. Here is a brief history of her life and work.

portrait of  Tina Modotti, actress and photographer in Hollywood, 1920 (b/w photo) © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
Tina Modotti, actress and photographer in Hollywood, 1920 (b/w photo) © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images

 

Tina Modotti, born in Italy in 1896, immigrated to the United States at the age of 16. Modotti resided in California and worked as an actress in theatre productions and silent films. Through the bohemian lifestyle, she met photographer Edward Weston in 1920. 

 

portrait of Edward Weston with his Seneca View Camera, Mexico, 1924 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
Edward Weston with his Seneca View Camera, Mexico, 1924 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images  

 

Weston became her mentor and in 1923 they moved to Mexico City and opened a portrait studio together. At the time, Mexico City was a cultural hub, mixing artists and intellectuals from all different backgrounds.

 

portrait photo of Ione Robinson, Mexico City, 1929 (b/w photo), Tina Modotti, (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
Ione Robinson, Mexico City, 1929 (b/w photo), Tina Modotti, (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images 

 

photo of Woman of Tehuantepec, Mexico, 1929 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
Woman of Tehuantepec, Mexico, 1929 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images

 

Tina Modotti immersed herself in the Mexican culture and began photographing the people and the landscapes.

 

image of Workers Loading Bananas, Veracruz, 1927 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwel
Workers Loading Bananas, Veracruz, 1927 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwel

 

photo of Woman with Flag, Mexico City, 1928 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
Woman with Flag, Mexico City, 1928 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images

 

In 1928 she met Julio Antonio Mella, founder of the internationalized Cuban Communist party. He had a big following among Latin American radicals.

 

portrait image of Julio Antonio Mella, Mexico City, 1928 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
Julio Antonio Mella, Mexico City, 1928 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images 

 

 In 1929 Mella was assassinated, and the following year Modotti was exiled from Mexico for her connections with the communist party. 

 

photograph titled Struggles in mexico c.1923 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / Private Collection / Prismatic Pictures / Bridgeman Images
Struggles in mexico c.1923 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / Private Collection / Prismatic Pictures / Bridgeman Images 

 

She spent some time in Berlin before moving onto Moscow, where she lived for a number of years.

 

photograph of a couple In the Zoological Garden, Berlin, Germany, 1930 (b/w photo) , Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
In the Zoological Garden, Berlin, Germany, 1930 (b/w photo) , Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images 

 

In 1931 she gave up photography to focus on her political activism. She died 11 years later, in 1942. 

 
image of a lily: Platinum Print of Lily by Tina Modotti, 1925 (platinum print), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / Private Collection / Photo © GraphicaArtis / Bridgeman Images
Platinum Print of Lily by Tina Modotti, 1925 (platinum print), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / Private Collection / Photo © GraphicaArtis / Bridgeman Images 

 

photo of Roses, Mexico by Tina Modotti, 1924 (platinum print), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / Photo © GraphicaArtis / Bridgeman Images
Roses, Mexico by Tina Modotti, 1924 (platinum print), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / Photo © GraphicaArtis / Bridgeman Images 

 

Although her photographic career was only a decade long, Tina Modotti created a body of work that represents the beauty she found in Mexico’s working-class and her creative peers. 

 

photo of Hands of the puppeteer, 1929 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
Hands of the puppeteer, 1929 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images 

 

Her work includes portraits of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Nickolas Muray, Jean Charlot, Ione Robinson, and Edward Weston.

 

Portrait of Nickolas Muray and Frida Kahlo, New York c.1928 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / Private Collection / Prismatic Pictures / Bridgeman Images
Portrait of Nickolas Muray and Frida Kahlo, New York c.1928 (b/w photo), Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / Private Collection / Prismatic Pictures / Bridgeman Images 

 

 

Would you like to see more images by Tina Modotti currently available on our website? View our selection

 

For any further information about this and other collections, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

photo of Campesino, State of Veracruz, Mexico, 1927 (b/w photo) , Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images
Campesino, State of Veracruz, Mexico, 1927 (b/w photo) , Modotti, Tina (1896-1942) / © Galerie Bilderwelt / Bridgeman Images 

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