Tina Modotti (1896 - 1942) was an actress, photographer and revolutionary. She is undoubtedly one of the most enigmatic figures in the history of photography. From November 19, 2022 to February 5, 2023, central works of her oeuvre will be on view at the Berlin gallery f³ - freiraum für fotografie.
In the 1920s, Modotti developed her own partisan photography, which - as a forerunner of Photographie Humaniste, so to speak - advocated for a more just world. Her main photographic work was created in Mexico between 1923 and 1930.
Her aim was to show the reality of life in the country with her pictures. Her photographs of the workers' movement in the 1920s, as well as her photographs of the international artistic scene that moved to the country after the Mexican Revolution, are historical documents of inestimable value. During her lifetime, her photographs were published in international newspapers and magazines.
About Tina Modotti
photographer and revolutionary
Tina Modotti was born Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti Mondini in 1896 in the poorest of circumstances in Udine, Italy. Already at the age of twelve, she had to contribute to the family's livelihood as a seamstress. In search of a better life, Modotti emigrated to the USA at the age of 17.
There she initially earned a living working in textile factories and in the film industry. The turning point was her encounter with the well-known American photographer Edward Weston, who brought her into contact with the medium.
Together with him, Tina Modotti moved to Mexico, attracted by the revolutionary atmosphere in the country. Between 1923 and 1930, she created her main photographic work there, holding up a mirror to the country and identifying with it socially, politically and culturally.
She photographed the working, poor population and beggars sleeping on the streets. Her gaze as a photographer is focused on the revolutionary indigenous movement and the living situation of women and children.
Beyond documentary photography, she is politically engaged as a member of the Communist Party from 1927 and connected to an equally left-wing politicized circle of friends, including Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Lotte Jacobi, Anna Seghers, Julio Antonio Mella and Pablo Neruda.
In 1930, Modotti was expelled from her adopted country and went first to Berlin, then Moscow, and finally to Spain, where she worked in the International Red Aid during the Spanish Civil War and was active against fascism. In 1939 she returns to Mexico.
Tina Modotti was a modern woman who determined her own life. In many areas of her multifaceted life and work, she took a pioneering role and had a significant influence on early Concerned Photography. In the night of January 5 to 6, 1942, she succumbed to a heart attack in a cab at the age of only 46.