Tina Modotti


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference


Photographer. As she learned the craft of photography under the guidance of her lover Edward Weston, she often made images that resemble his in their simplicity and formal elegance. However, her interests in people and politics ultimately led her to subjects that have no counterpart among his. Born in Udine, Italy, Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti arrived in the United States at sixteen and soon joined relatives in San Francisco. In 1917, with her new husband, poet and painter Robaix de l'Abrie “Robo” Richey, she moved to Los Angeles, where they became acquainted with local artists and intellectuals, including Weston. Her great beauty soon led to small Hollywood movie roles. In 1922, while they were visiting Mexico, her husband died of smallpox. The following year, Modotti settled in Mexico City with Weston. When he left Mexico for good in 1926, Modotti stayed behind. They continued to correspond but never saw each other again. Modotti's early photographic work includes many carefully composed studies of ordinary objects, usually bathed in natural light. Before long, however, she began to see her camera as a tool of revolutionary purpose, examining the lives of ordinary people, especially women and children. In 1927 she joined the Mexican communist party and three years later was expelled from the country for political reasons. That event effectively ended her photographic career. Returning to Europe, she did humanitarian work and participated in leftist political operations in several countries, most notably Spain during its Civil War. In 1939 she returned to Mexico. She died in Mexico City.

Subjects: Art.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.