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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Tina Modotti

Other: Tina Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti 
Dates:  1896, 16 August - 1942, 6 January
Born:  Italy, Udine
Died:  Mexico, Mexico City
Active:  Mexico
Italian politically active photographer who was most active in Mexico between 1923 and 1930. She was a companion of Edward Weston and moved in 1923 to Mexico City with her agreeing to work for nothing in his darkroom in exchange for his mentorship. The period was one of declining pictorialism and a move to the "straight photography" of Modernism and her own work included traits from both. As Weston and Modotti became increasing involved in the political turmoil of Mexico her photographs became more "revolutionary" and politically charged and she found publications that matched her goals including El Machete, Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung (AIZ), and New Masses. The Modernist nudes they took of each other had a profound impact on the photography of the naked form.

Preparing biographies

Further research

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Edward Weston
Tina Modotti, Glendale 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Supplemental information

Additional sources of information
Letizia Argentieri, Tina Modotti: fra arte e rivoluzione, Milano, Angeli, 2005 [according to the author, different from the American edition];
Christiane Barckhausen, Tina Modotti: Wahrheit und Legende einer umstritten Frau, Berlin, Verlag Neues Leben, 1989 [one of the better biographies in my opinion];
Paolo Cossi, Tina Modotti, Pordenone, Biblioteca dell’immagine, 2003 [a comic-strip biography];
Sarah M. Lowe, Tina Modotti & Edward Weston: the Mexico years - Catalogue of the exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, New York, Merrel, 2004;
Mariana Figarella, Edward Weston e Tina Modotti in Messico, Pordenone, Cinemazero 2003 [a good study from a very interesting publishing house];
Tina Modotti: Una vita nella storia, Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, Udine 2003, Tavagnacco, Arti Grafiche friulane, 1995 [first relevant convention in “her city”, sort of a discovery of Modotti for Italy];
Elisa Paltrinieri, Tina Modotti. Fotografa irregolare, Milano, Selene 2004;
Vittorio Vidali, Tina Modotti. Ritratto di donna, Tavagnacco, Arti Grafiche friulane, 2002 [a biography by her very controversial last companion].
[Kindly contributed by Monica Di Barbora, June 2007] 

Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website

Internet resources

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Tina Modotti ... 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.333 
• Fernandez, Horacio (ed.) 2000 Fotografía Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 (Aldeasa) p.176 [This Spanish exhibition catalogue is one of the best sources for illustrations of photomontage and book design for the period between the two World Wars.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Tina Modotti.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.194-195 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Lahs-Gonzales, Olivia & Lippard, Lucy 1997 Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century. Selections from the Helen Kornblum Collection (Saint Louis Art Museum, D.A.P.) [Tina Modotti is included in this overview of women photographers.] 
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.187 
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.86 [Analyzes a single photograph by Tina Modotti.] 
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