The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In his essay, “El arte negro” [The Black Art], Manuel Álvarez Bravo mentions several factors that substantiate photography’s standing as an art form. In this photographer’s opinion the practice, like other forms of artistic expression, provides information about a similar world that in this case is perceived through his own eyes, sense of touch, and ears. Álvarez Bravo remarks that human sensitivity and technique are influenced by both social and scientific changes, and that “the artist”—if that term can still be used—is the only one capable of documenting the progress and yearnings of mankind. True artists will also reject the influence of any habit that risks corrupting his or her work.
Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902–2002) represents a defining period in Mexican photography, specifically during the 1930s and 1940s. His work is best known for its realistic portrayal of daily life as experienced by people at all levels of society. He studied music and painting at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes [National School of Fine Arts], but Hugo Brehme was his mentor in the field of European photographic techniques. The Italian Tina Modotti (1896–1942) was also a powerful influence on the Mexican photographer through her work in Mexican Folkways magazine. Álvarez Bravo’s first major exhibition, in 1934 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes [Palace of Fine Arts] in Mexico City, showcased his work alongside the French portrait photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. This exhibition later traveled to New York, where it also included works by Walker Evans.