Manuel Álvarez Bravo - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gift from the artist to André Breton
    Calmels Cohen, Paris, André Breton, 42, rue Fontaine, 13 April 2003, lot 5171
    Private Collection, France

  • Literature

    Corcoran Gallery of Art, Álvarez Bravo, pl. 18
    Turner Publications, Manuel Álvarez Bravo: 100 years, 100 days, pl. 10
    Steidl, Photographs by Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans, Documentary and Anti-Graphic, p. 82
    Urbajtel, Manuel Álvarez Bravo: Photopoetry, p. 43

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Mexico, poorly awakened from its mythological past, continues to evolve under the protection of Xochipilli, god of flowers and of lyrical poetry, and of Couatlicue, goddess of the earth and of violent death…”
    -André Breton, Souvenir du Mexique, Minotaure, No. 12-13, 1939

    This rare, early print of Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s masterpiece Los Obstaculos was once in the collection of André Breton, the founder and leader of the Surrealist movement. After meeting Álvarez Bravo in 1938, Breton became a crucial early promoter of his work. He included him in the International Surrealist Exhibition at the Galería de Arte Mexicano in 1940, among others, and, upon Breton’s return to France, published his work in the Surrealist magazine Minotaure.

    Despite these early Surrealist associations, Álvarez Bravo never himself claimed to be a Surrealist. Instead, his photographs speak to his cultural heritage and the indigenous roots of the Mexican people who, in the aftermath of a horrendous civil war, were facing rapid modernization. One can look at this striking image, of wooden carousel horses wrapped and presumably being carted away, as a poetic metaphor for the conflicts in Mexico’s post-revolution era.


Los Obstaculos (The Obstacles)

Gelatin silver print.
7 3/8 x 9 1/2 in. (18.6 x 24 cm )
Signed in pencil on the mount.

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $50,000

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New York 4 April 2017