National Museum of Women in the Arts
Lola Alvarez Bravo
April 03 1907 - July 31 1993
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Photograph of Lola Alvarez Bravo, by Gustavo Silva, ca. 1920. Private collection, Mexico City, Mexico
Place of Birth:
Lagos de Moreno
Nationality:
Mexican
Phonetic Spelling:
LOH-lah AHL-vah-rehs BRAH-voh
Work Type/Media:
Multimedia (electronic, digital, video, film), Photography
Artistic Role(s):
Filmmaker, Photographer, Photomontagist
Style:
Surrealism
Artist's Biography:
A native of Lagos de Moreno, a small city in Jalisco on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Dolores (Lola) Martinez Vianda grew up to be one of that country’s first professional women photographers. Her parents moved to Mexico City when she was very young. Orphaned at eight, she was raised by relatives and in 1925, married the young Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, who had been a friend and neighbor for many years. The newlyweds spent a year in Oaxaca, in central Mexico, where Lola assisted her husband in the darkroom and began taking her own pictures. The couple’s son, Manuelito, was born in 1927; he also became a professional photographer. Lola and Manuel came to know many of the most important Mexican artists of the day, including the painters José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo.

In 1934, Alvarez Bravo’s marriage came to an end; the couple separated and were divorced fifteen years later. Meanwhile, inspired by such photographers as Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, Lola established a successful independent career. For the next fifty years, Alvarez Bravo photographed a wide variety of subjects, making documentary images of daily life in Mexico’s villages and city streets and portraits of great leaders from various countries. She also experimented with photomontage.

Alvarez Bravo’s first one-woman exhibition was held at Mexico City’s Palace of Fine Arts in 1944; numerous solo and group shows followed. From 1951 through 1958, she directed her own Mexico City gallery, where in 1953 Frida Kahlo had her only one-woman exhibition in her native country during her lifetime. In addition, Alvarez Bravo taught photography at the prestigious Academia de San Carlos in the Mexican Capital. A major retrospective of her work was held in Mexico City in 1992, although the artist had stopped making work three years earlier because of failing eyesight.

Other Occupation(s):
Director (Museum), Photojournalist, Teacher, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
Mexico City
Where Trained/Schools:
none
Related Visual Artists:
friend of Frida Kahlo friend of María Izquierdo friend of José Clemente Orozco friend of David Alfaro Siqueiro friend of Rufino Tamayo wife of Manuel Alvarez Bravo mother of Manuelito Alvarez Bravo influenced by Edward Weston influenced by Tina Modotti
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Distinguished Citizen Medal, Department of Fine Arts, Cultural Secretariat, State of Jalisco, Mexico (1983) José Clemente Orozco Commemorative Plaque, State of Jalisco, Mexico (1964)
Earliest exhibition:
Mexico Art Today, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA (1943)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Lola Alvarez Bravo: Portraits of Frida Kahlo
A History of Women Photographers
Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Artist retrospective(s):
Lola Alvarez Bravo: In Her Own Light, Americas Society Art Gallery, New York, NY, USA (1996) Lola Alvarez Bravo: Fotografias Selectas 1934-1985, Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaño, Mexico City, Mexico (1992)
Related places
Mexico City (died at)
De Generaci�n en Generaci�n, ca 1950
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De Generación en Generación
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