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News — Mary Ellen Mark: Man and Beast

Twin Brothers Tulsi and Basant, Great Famous Circus, Calcutta, India, © 1989, Mary Ellen Mark
Twin Brothers Tulsi and Basant, Great Famous Circus, Calcutta, India, © 1989, Mary Ellen Mark

The Wittliff Collections present new exhibition and book
Photographs from Mexico and India

APRIL 27, 2014, SUNDAY, 2:00 PM
Exhibition reception + book launch + talk with MARY ELLEN MARK

Photographs on view JANUARY 21 through DECEMBER 7, 2014



RELEASED January 14, 2014

SAN MARCOS, TX—On January 21, the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University will open a major exhibition of images by renowned documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark, Man and Beast: Photographs from Mexico and India. On view through December 7, 2014, Man and Beast celebrates the University of Texas Press publication of the new Wittliff Collections series book by the same name.

The public is invited to the exhibition reception, artist talk, and book launch/signing with Mary Ellen Mark at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 27, 2014. Attendees are asked to RSVP to

Admission to both the exhibition and event is free.

The Wittliff Collections are located on the seventh floor of Texas State’s Alkek Library in San Marcos, between Austin and San Antonio. Exhibition hours, directions, parking information, and other details about visiting the Wittliff are online. For questions, call 512.245.2313.

Mary Ellen Mark, recognized as one of America’s most respected and influential photographers, has been taking uniquely sensitive and expressive images of people around the world for nearly 50 years. The title for this exhibition and the new Wittliff Collections’ publication, Man and Beast, was inspired by a dominant theme of Mark’s oeuvre: the relationships between people and animals, including, as Mark writes, “the anthropomorphic quality of animals and the animalistic quality of man.”

The Man and Beast exhibition gathers together more than 90 of the Wittliff’s images taken by Mark in Mexico and India, countries that have repeatedly drawn her attention since the late 1960s. Many of the people represented here are performers and trainers with various itinerant circuses. Mark began to visit these circuses during her initial trip to India in 1968, and she was able to focus on the subject in depth when she photographed 18 Indian traveling circuses in 1989 and 1990, and others in Mexico in 1997.

Mark describes the circus as “a universal form of theater.” “It incorporates,” she writes, “so many things—beauty, irony, poetry, tragedy.” The circus also provides a launching point to explore other themes that pervade Mark’s work and are particularly prevalent in this exhibition: the mutability of identity through costume and performance; hope, humor, and faith in difficult circumstances; and the innate human (and animal) need for contact and community—in the fullest range of its meaning.

The Mary Ellen Mark exhibition Man and Beast: Photographs from Mexico and India was organized by the director of the Wittliff Collections, David Coleman. It is on view from January 21 through December 7, 2014.

Man and Beast: Photographs from Mexico and India by Mary Ellen Mark, from the University of Texas Press, is part of the Wittliff Collections’ Southwestern & Mexican Photography book series, and Mark's nineteenth monograph. The 12 x 12 inch volume includes 116 black-and-white plates made from Mark’s photographs in the Wittliff’s permanent holdings. It also features a conversation between Mark and Melissa Harris, editor-in-chief of Aperture Foundation, covering Mark’s lifelong passion for animals, her experiences photographing them in circuses with their trainers, and her efforts to portray the humanity of animals and the lurking beast within humans.

2:00 P.M. SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 2014
exhibition reception + artist talk + book signing with MARY ELLEN MARK

The Man and Beast exhibition reception, artist talk, and book launch was held on Sunday, April 27 at 2:00 p.m. at the Wittliff Collections, on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library at Texas State University in San Marcos. The program featured a dialogue between Wittliff director David Coleman and internationally renowned documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark about her work and career. Mark also signed copies of her new book, which was available for a special price at the event. Man and Beast: Photographs from Mexico and India is the  Wittliff’s latest photography series book by UT Press—purchase SIGNED copies here. Admission is free. Attendees to this event are asked to RSVP to

Follow the links for the complete listings of exhibitions and events at the Wittliff Collections.


Mary Ellen Mark with Billy the Donkey by Michael PiazzaMARY ELLEN MARK
Man and Beast: Photographs from Mexico and India is Mary Ellen Mark's nineteenth book. Her previous monographs include Seen Behind the Scene, Exposure, Falkland Road, and Ward 81. Her photo essays and portraits have appeared in such publications as LIFE, New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Texas Monthly, and Vanity Fair. Mark’s many honors include the Cornell Capa Award from the International Center of Photography, the Infinity Award for Journalism, Photographer of the Year Award from the Friends of Photography, the World Press Award for Outstanding Body of Work throughout the Years, the Victor Hasselblad Cover Award, and two Robert F. Kennedy Awards. Her photographs have been collected by major museums in the United States, Europe, and Australia.