Tina Modotti: Photographs

TINA MODOTTI by Margaret Hooks brings together a collection of the artist’s most important photographs. It also includes an essay and the commentaries of the author, a leading authority on Modotti, placing the photographer’s images within their historical and artistic context.

Tina Modotti was a pioneer among the few women photographers of the 1920s. Having studied with Edward Weston, she quickly became an outstanding photographer in her own right.

Documenting the people and tumultuous politics of Mexico, her portraits, still lifes and abstract compositions combine a sophisticated sense of design with socially and politically orientated subject matter.
Phaidon Press, London & New York, 2006, ills., chron., hardcover. ISBN 0 714841560.

Tina Modotti (1896-1942) era pionera entre las pocas mujeres fotógrafas de la década de 1920. Después de haber estudiado con Edward Weston, en muy poco tiempo se convirtió en una excepcional fotógrafa por derecho propio.

En sus retratos, naturalezas muertas y composiciones abstractas documentó al pueblo y las convulsiones políticas de México, combinando un sofisticado sentido del diseño con una temática de denuncia sociopolítica.
Phaidon Press, London & New York, Primera edición en español 2005. ISBN 0 714897825.
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“I really enjoyed this lovely book of Tina Modotti’s photographs. I thought the selection was quite unique, not the usual ones I’ve seen reproduced in other books. In fact several of the photos I’d never seen before. Also the essay helped me put her work in context by showing how she developed as a photographer.”
– Rachel Calderon



Rene D'Harnoncourt Puppet, 1929. This photograph of a marionette depicts Modotti's friend, Rene D'Harnoncourt, an art dealer who later became Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Rene D’Harnoncourt Puppet, 1929. This photograph of a marionette depicts Modotti’s friend, Rene D’Harnoncourt, an art dealer who later became Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Modotti and Weston talked about leaving California; they found their lives there too restrictive. Weston in particular was anxious to be rid of the middle-class mores in which he felt his family life was mired, and Mexico seemed an attractive choice. So, boarding the SS Colima from the port of San Pedro in July 1923, Modotti headed for Mexico once again, this time with Weston, his son Chandler, and an agreement that, in exchange for helping him run his studio, Weston would teach her photography. Weston did not speak Spanish, but Modotti did, and as a result she had already made many invaluable contacts within Mexico’s artistic colony. Also included in their ‘contract’ was the agreement that each would have complete sexual freedom. Weston had insisted on this and Modotti had acquiesced; it was a demand he would come to regret.

Their home in a fashionable neighbourhood of Mexico City became a meeting place for leading artists and intellectuals, then enjoying a heyday with the encouragement of education minister José Vasconcelos, the driving force behind the cultural renaissance sweeping the country. They continued their bohemian lifestyle; Modotti smoked a pipe and was reputedly the first woman to wear blue jeans in Mexico. The raucous parties they frequently organized attracted revolutionaries, aristocrats and penniless artists. It was at one of these parties that Diego Rivera first wooed Frida Kahlo. Those closest to Modotti at the time were Mexican painters and muralists, such as Lola Cueto and Diego Rivera. She also cultivated friendships with foreign artists and writers then living in Mexico, such as D.H. Lawrence, Jean Chariot, Anita Brenner, Rene D’Harnoncourt and Frances Toor, who was then editing Mexican Folkways, a magazine on Mexican folklore, also the main vehicle for the work of expatriate artists. But Modotti and Weston also worked hard and took their photography very seriously …
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