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Synopsis

This is a review written in the journal Helios about an exhibition mounted by Agustín Jiménez, a photography professor at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (Mexico City) with his disciple Aurora Eugenia Latapi (no accent). In this show, they exhibited their most recent works, which were firmly rooted in an innovative approach to photography. In this article, the writer strongly criticizes both of them, whom he deems imitators of the art promoted by Edward Weston. The origin of this modernist movement could be attributed to Weston and his disciple, Tina Modotti, who is also criticized for imitating her teacher. However, it is acknowledged that the Italian photographer introduced a “feminine spirit” into her works. On the other hand, the critics of Jiménez and Latapi focus on their lack of a “Latin” sensibility and imitation of the Anglo-Saxon one. The anonymous writer censures Jiménez for lack of creativity and for imposing that same style on his student, a style that lacks any originality whatsoever. Latapi is considered a very capable photographer, but on this occasion, her work appears to imitate that of her teacher, which was not the case in Latapi’s earlier exhibition at the Teatro Nacional.

Annotations

This article is a severe criticism of the photographic exhibition of Agustín Jiménez and his student Aurora Eugenia Latapi. The article shows the state of Mexican photography after the modernization movement had its strong impact in the late 1920s, just after Edward Weston and Tina Modotti had entered the art milieu in Mexico. The article may have been written by the editor of the journal Helios, Antonio Garduño, a photographer who was a graduate of the Academia de San Carlos and therefore a defender of traditional photography and a leading critic of the modernization of Mexican photography. He himself would describe it as photography with “Anglo-Saxon” overtones, as well as anything that strayed outside the parameters of pictorial photography.

The writer of the article tells of several matters related to the teaching of photography at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. He presents some of the values that persisted in that milieu such as: nationalism tied to a conservative focus on the concept of fine arts and a search for temperament and personality in the art typical of the period. In addition, there was a perception that the photographic approach was imbued of the times and similar to advertising posters; thus they were not considered artworks. The images referred to shaped the well-known aesthetic of the fragment, but to the anonymous writer, this is a shortcoming. He criticizes the fact that the teacher, Jiménez, takes photographs of the upper part of the soldiers’ bodies, while his student photographs the lower part. Finally, another feature of the article is its criticism of Eugenia Latapi for failing to transmit a “feminine temperament” in her photographs. Without precisely deciphering what is meant by this term, the writer makes it very clear that, for those who seek to maintain the status quo in photography, gender differences were highly valued in the creation of a photographic image.

Researcher
Rebeca Monroy : CURARE A. C.
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit

Location
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional