National Museum of Women in the Arts
Renata von Hanffstengel
August 29 1934 - present
Photograph of Renata von Hanffstengel, 2006, by Beatriz López García, courtesy of the artist
Place of Birth:
German, Mexican
Phonetic Spelling:
reh-NAH-tah vahn HAHNF-stayn-ghel
Active Dates:
1964 - 1990
Work Type/Media:
Artistic Role(s):
Other, Surrealism
Artist's Biography:
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.

Other Occupation(s):
Author, Curator , Dancer, Editor, Founder, Linguist, Professor, Publisher, Researcher
Place(s) of Residence:
Mexico City
Place(s) of Activity:
Mexico City
Where Trained/Schools:
Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany (1994) National University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico (1966) San Diego State College, San Diego, CA, USA (1961)
Related Visual Artists:
influenced by Lázaro Blanco influenced by José Luis Neyra influenced by Jesús Sánchez Uribe
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Founding Member, Mexican Council of Photography, Mexico City, Mexico (1977) Member, Photography Club of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico (1965-1967)
Earliest exhibition:
Galería del Bosque, Guadalajara, Mexico (1986)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997