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Eyes To Fly With

OCTOBER 21, 2006 — MARCH 1, 2007
EYES TO FLY WITH / OJOS PARA VOLAR: Photographs by Graciela Iturbide

Ojos para volar / Eyes to Fly With highlights works from the Wittliff’s permanent collection of one of Mexico’s greatest photographers, Graciela Iturbide. The exhibit was originally created in concert with publication of the ninth volume in the Wittliff Collections’ award-winning book series, Eyes to Fly With: Portraits, Self-Portraits, and Other Photographs.

The exhibition features a number of previously unpublished, never-before-exhibited photographs and further illuminate Iturbide’s creative evolution—through her portraits and self-portraits, the pivotal image from her series, Death in the Cemetery (unseen until now), and a selection of her most famous photographs. Iturbide’s work has been the subject of numerous previous books, and is collected by major museums throughout the world; at more than 200 prints, the Wittliff’s growing archive of Iturbide’s photographs is the largest in the U.S.

The book, published by the University of Texas Press, illuminates the photographer’s personal mythologies—among them her associations with dreams, death, and birds—through a conversation with Fabienne Bradu and an introduction by Alejandro Castellanos, both translated from Spanish by former Wittliff Collections curator and volume editor, Connie Todd. The Southwestern & Mexican Photography series editor is Bill Wittliff. [UT Press: Austin, 2006, 12 x 12 in., 210 pp., 115 duo-tones, hardcover with dust jacket]. Available for purchase in the Wittliff Gift Shop.


Graciela Iturbide has found her inner theme photographing the Zapotec women of Juchitan and the Mixtec goat butchers of Oaxaca, in the company of Nobel laureates and world-renowned artists, among mourners at Mexican cemeteries and Indian death houses. Each image stands on its artistic own, but each also tells something about the fascinating artist who made it. In Eyes to Fly With, which includes both iconic images and previously unpublished work, Graciela Iturbide has assembled both a retrospective of her career and an introspective self-portrait—in short, an artist’s art book.

In the late 1960s, the great Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo took Iturbide as his assistant. It was a fond and fruitful apprenticeship, but Iturbide eventually sought her own career because, as she says in a conversation with the writer Fabienne Bradu, “... He told me that I was bound to have influences but that I also should suppress them and achieve my own expression. And his own personality helped me not to imitate him. I was and I am very influenced by him, but I have gone down other roads....”

This book pulls together Iturbide’s most expressive work, including select self-portraits. Bradu’s interview, which appears in both English and Spanish, reveals the stories behind classic images such as Our Lady of the Iguanas. (Did she pose the iguanas on that woman’s head, or was it photographic serendipity?) Bradu also draws out intimate reflections on photography, Mexico, M. A. Bravo, famous friends, indigenous myth­ology, death, and dreams, so that turning the page to an old man gazing at airborne gulls, it’s impossible not to hear Iturbide’s words, “One day... I dreamed a sentence over and over: ‘In my country I will plant birds.’” Filled with such personal images and Iturbide’s own voice, Eyes to Fly With is the private tour of the artist’s apartment that every admirer dreams of taking.