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Witnesses to History

AUGUST 22, 2005 — FEBRUARY 12, 2006

Demonstrating the depth and vitality of the photojournalistic tradition in Mexico today, Testigos de la historia / Witnesses to History showcases the Wittliff Gallery’s important permanent collection of modern and contemporary Mexican documentary photography.

An ONLINE EXHIBITION of Testigos de la historia / Witnesses to History is on the web. Created by Tara Spies, the internet show complements the gallery exhibit and features selected images from each of the twelve artists as well as biographical information.

Among the almost 13,000 images now held in the Wittliff Gallery’s permanent archives is a significant collection tracing the development of photojournalism from early giants Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Héctor García, Nacho López, and Rodrigo Moya to the intrepid inheritors of this great artistic tradition: Yolanda Andrade, Marco Antonio Cruz, Maya Goded, Graciela Iturbide, Eniac Martínez Ulloa, Francisco Mata Rosas, Raúl Ortega, and Antonio Turok.

The 59 photographs we’ve chosen for this exhibition reveal the essence of twentieth-century Mexico, yet transcend mere documentary photography to stand alone beyond their agenda. Mexican documentary photographers have maintained an unflagging interest in what is in front of the lens and have never shifted away from concerned documentary communication of political, social, and human truths—in Mexico or abroad. The great ones, however, have managed to elevate their craft to high art while working within the parameters of the genre. It is transcendence of genre that makes an image collectable for the Wittliff.


Highlights of the show include Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s Obrero en huelga asesinado (Striking Worker Murdered), Subcomandante Marcos, La Realidad, Chiapas taken by Raúl Ortega in 1995, and a large enigmatic portrait of Che Guevara by Rodrigo Moya entitled Che melancólico, 1964, Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba (Melancholy Che).