Monica Bravo: Picturing Greater America

Mujer con bandera (Woman with Flag), 1928. © 35273, Tina Modotti, Secretaría de Cultura-INAH-SINAFO-FOTOTECA NACIONAL-MÉXICO

Mujer con bandera (Woman with Flag), 1928.
© 35273, Tina Modotti, Secretaría de Cultura-INAH-SINAFO-FOTOTECA NACIONAL-MÉXICO

Picturing Greater America: U.S. Modernist Photography and the Mexican Cultural Renaissance, 1920-45

Artists were among the many cultural and political pilgrims who traveled or expatriated from the United States to Mexico after its revolution (1910-20), in the midst of its cultural renaissance (1920-40). Among them were four significant modernist photographers: Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Paul Strand, and Helen Levitt. This dissertation is a study of the work that these photographers created in Mexico, the conditions that drew them south, and the interactions and exchanges they had with Mexican artists working in a variety of creative media. Through their transnational dialog, US modernist photographers and Mexican artists discovered shared ideals. In contrast to standard art historical analyses that classify these interwar national developments discretely, Bravo contends that artists on both sides of the border contributed to a nascent Greater American modernism by thinking hemispherically. Bravo’s examines U.S. art history in an international context—thereby construing American art broadly—and places photography back into conversation with painting, literature, and music.

Monica Bravo is an ABD doctoral candidate specializing in American art in a global context and the history of photography at Brown University. She received her BA in Studio Art from Dartmouth College in 2004, and MA in Art History and Criticism from Stony Brook University in 2009. Her dissertation examines exchanges between US modernist photographers and modern Mexican artists working in painting, poetry, music, and photography, resulting in the development of a Greater American modernism in the interwar period. She has been a fellow at the Center for Creative Photography, the Huntington Library and Art Collections, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center. She is currently the Wyeth Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.


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