Miami Biennale
Lola Álvarez Bravo

Art Works
Lola Álvarez Bravo The two Fridas, Coyoacán, Mexico City, ca. 1944
Gelatin silver paint; 16 x 14 inches
From Beyond the Erotic: Essay on Permanence

Return to: Artist Biographies


Lola Álvarez Bravo (1907-1993) Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco, Mexico. Lived in Mexico City, Mexico. Lola Álvarez Bravo was a Mexican photographer. (Álvarez Bravo is her surname) She was a key figure (along with Tina Modotti, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and her husband Manuel Álvarez Bravo) in Mexico's post-revolution renaissance.

She was born Dolores Martinez de Anda to wealthy parents in the state of Jalisco. She moved to Mexico City as a young child, after her mother left the family under mysterious circumstances. Her father died when she was a young teenager, and she was then sent to live with the family of her half brother, living nearby in Mexico City. It was here that she met the young Manuel Bravo, a neighbor. They married in 1925 and moved to Oaxaca where Manuel was an accountant for the federal government. Lola became pregnant but before she gave birth, they returned to Mexico City.

Manuel had taken up photography as an adolescent; he taught Lola and they took pictures together in Oaxaca. Manuel also taught Lola how to develop film and make prints in the darkroom. As he became more serious about pursuing a career in photography, she acted as his assistant, although she also harbored a desire to become a photographer in her own right. The Bravo's separated in 1934 but she decided to maintain the Bravo name. Lola needed to support herself and taught as well as worked in a government archives. But she also continued to experiment with photography and in 1936 received her first real commission photographing the colonial choir stalls of a former church.

Inspired by such photographers as Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, Lola established a successful independent career. For 50 years, she photographed a wide variety of subjects, making documentary images of daily life in Mexico's villages and city streets and portraits of great leaders from various countries. She also experimented with photomontage.

She also taught photography at the prestigious Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City.

The full archive of Lola Álvarez Bravo's work is located at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona in Tucson, which also manages the copyright of her work.

Further reading: Alvarez Bravo, L., & Ferrer, E. (2006). Lola Alvarez Bravo. New York, Aperture. ISBN 1931788944