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Arts of Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean

Works of art from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean range from ancient cultures to cutting-edge artists of today. Among the highlights are the Glassell Collection of Pre-Columbian Gold and the museum’s growing collection of modern and contemporary art by Latin American and Latino artists.

© The Manuel Álvarez Bravo Photography Archive
Mexican, 1902 - 2002
Los agachados (The Crouched Ones)
From the portfolio
"Fifteen Photographs by Manuel Alvarez Bravo" (1974)
Gelatin silver print

7 ¼ x 9 ½ inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the Lynch Foundation

Arts of Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean

Although a scene of five workers sitting at a lunch counter is a seemingly ordinary subject, Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo transfigures it into something mysterious and extraordinary. The anonymity of the workers in The Crouched Ones—backs to the camera and heads hidden in the dark shadows—creates a sense of intrigue. Inspired by the literary movement known as magical realism, Álvarez Bravo blends the supernatural and the everyday, elevating his subjects to working-class heroes.

Álvarez Bravo's career began at the height of the Mexican Renaissance,
a period of great intellectual and cultural exchange between artists such
as Frida Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco, and Diego Rivera. Álvarez Bravo
adopted many of the ideas from this period, such as the emphasis on
Mexican tradition, socialist realism, and magical realism. His unique style
is the result of pairing these indigenous influences with international ones,
particularly ideas of French Surrealism articulated by writer André Breton.
As the leading figure of Modernist photography in Mexico, Álvarez Bravo
guided a generation of Mexican photographers.

To view specific works by Álvarez Bravo in the collection, contact the museum's Works on Paper Study Center for an appointment.