Tina Modotti - Passion & Humanity: The Susie Tompkins Buell Collection New York Thursday, April 4, 2019 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Page Imageworks, San Francisco, 1997

  • Exhibited

    Tina Modotti & Edward Weston: The Mexico Years, Barbican Centre, London, 29 April - 1 August 2004
    Mexico as Muse: Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2 September 2006 - 2 January 2007
    Collected, Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco, 2 May 2016 - 31 January 2017

  • Literature

    Pier 24 Photography, Collected, p. 113 (this print)
    Lowe, Tina Modotti & Edward Weston: The Mexico Years, pl. 73 (this print)
    Creative Art Magazine, vol. 4, No. 2, February 1929, p. xlviii
    Lowe, Tina Modotti: Photographs, pl. 75
    Constantine, Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life, p. 140
    Hooks, Tina Modotti: Photographer and Revolutionary, p. 141
    Hooks, Tina Modotti: Phaidon 55, p. 77
    Hooks, Tina Modotti, pl. 31
    Schultz, et al., Tina Modotti: Photographien & Dokumente, p. 86

  • Catalogue Essay

    Tina Modotti’s embrace of the struggles of the Mexican working class inspired many of her photographs during her stay in that country, and in 1926, she began work on a series of studies of Mexican workers that combined her aesthetic and political views. Modotti authority Sarah Lowe cites Labor 1, or Hands Washing, as one of her strongest photographs from this time. Lowe writes,
    ‘Through close cropping and elegant composition, Modotti created icons that fairly explode. Literally, these hands do the necessary work for Mexico, while figuratively, they represent the potential political power vested in the campesinos and the trabajadores’ (Tina Modotti: Photographs, p. 36).

    In contrast to the masterfully orchestrated Campesinos (lot 9), which shows the collective strength of workers united, Labor 1—with its depiction of a pair of muscular hands at work—demonstrates the power inherent in the individual.

    An early gelatin silver print of this image is in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.


Labor 1 or Hands Washing

circa 1927
Platinum or palladium print.
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (19.1 x 23.5 cm)
Signed, annotated ‘Mexico D. F.’ and ‘Enlarged negative from a 3 1/4 - 4 1/4 graflex – 20th of a second’ in pencil on the verso.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Contact Specialist
Caroline Deck
Senior Specialist, Head of Sale

Chris Mahoney
Senior International Specialist

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas

General Enquiries
+1 212 940 1245

Passion & Humanity: The Susie Tompkins Buell Collection

New York Auction 4 April 2019