The Photographer’s Gallery‘s exhibition of Manuel Alvarez Bravo has me reaching for my copy of ‘Manuel Alvarez Bravo – Photopoetry’, a detailed study into his photography. I have long been an admirer of his work, but what really strikes me about Alvarez Bravo (“AB”) is his ability to keep all the genre plates spinning.
As John Banville says in his essay, ‘A Magician in Light’ 1, AB recognised both the poetical and journalistic potential of photography. In his work we see a full range of intention. In an age of specialisation and the early narrowing of options this insistence on width and depth in his photography is so encouraging.
It’s worth looking at examples of his range of output:
Street Life – Cartier-Bresson influence?
Surreal – Walker Evans influence?
Detail – Atget infuence?
Anticipating Robert Frank?
Aspiring photography students would do well to take a leaf out of AB’s book. His refusal to be pigeon-holed is a lesson to us all in these times.
- Manuel Alvarez Bravo – Photopoetry, Thames and Hudson, 2008, page 9 ↩