A Mexican national, Renata von Hanffstengel was born in Kiel, Germany in 1934 to a German father and Mexican mother. In 1965, she began to pursue a career in photography. Like most aspiring photographers in Mexico at that time, she taught herself how to use a camera, and relied on books and friends to fill gaps in her knowledge of theory and practice. With the guidance of other Mexican photographers, such as Lázaro Blanco, José Luis Neyra, and Jesús Sánchez Uribe, her art progressed and, by 1979, she had exhibited in Mexico, Brazil, Germany, and the United States.
Von Hanffstengel’s portfolios are centered on issues of religion and social justice. Their subjects have included sixteenth century Mexican convents, the oppression of women and girls in Mexico, and the tree as both a spiritual and secular symbol. Her academic background informs her aesthetic decisions, lending the weight of rigorous study to her poetic, and often dramatic, images.
In addition to her career as an artist, von Hanffstengel has served as an editor of the Mexican photography magazine Fotozoom
, helped to found the Mexican Council of Photography, and authored, among other books, a history of Latin American photography. Recently, she served as head of the Department of German Literature at the National University of Mexico.
Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany (1994)
National University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico (1966)
San Diego State College, San Diego, CA, USA (1961)
influenced by Lázaro Blanco
influenced by José Luis Neyra
influenced by Jesús Sánchez Uribe
Founding Member, Mexican Council of Photography, Mexico City, Mexico (1977)
Member, Photography Club of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico (1965-1967)