5 January 2022 will mark the 80th anniversary of Tina Modotti's death. Here is a brief history of her life and work.
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.
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.
Tina Modotti immersed herself in the Mexican culture and began photographing the people and the landscapes.
In 1928 she met Julio Antonio Mella, founder of the internationalized Cuban Communist party. He had a big following among Latin American radicals.
In 1929 Mella was assassinated, and the following year Modotti was exiled from Mexico for her connections with the communist party.
She spent some time in Berlin before moving onto Moscow, where she lived for a number of years.
In 1931 she gave up photography to focus on her political activism. She died 11 years later, in 1942.
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.
Her work includes portraits of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Nickolas Muray, Jean Charlot, Ione Robinson, and Edward Weston.
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