From our collection of art photography, a portrait photograph of Mexican composer Carlos Chávez by Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo, inscribed by Chavez in 1934. Print dimensions: 2 7/8 in. x 3 3/4 in.
Carlos Chávez received formal training as a pianist, but was largely self-taught as a composer. He grew up during the period of intense nationalism in Mexico brought about by the end of the Mexican revolution. His investigation into native folk music and dance were a significant influence in his music. Chávez was also a distinguished teacher and had an active conducting career, working with nearly every major symphony orchestra in the United States, Europe and Latin America.
Álvarez Bravo studied painting and music in Mexico City; in 1922, he began to take photographs. Through his life he knew many of the artists and writers who lived or visited Mexico including Tina Modotti, Diego Rivera, Paul Strand, and Cartier-Bresson, to name a few. In 1930, when Modotti left Mexico, he provided illustrations for Francis Toor’s book Mexican Folkways. In 1938 he met André Breton; Breton published some of Álvarez Bravo's photographs in Minotaure.
Álvarez Bravo influenced younger generations of photographers in Latin America because of his subject-matter, which often focused on indigenous peoples, and because in his work he combined awareness of current trends in international photography with an appreciation of his own country’s traditions.