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March 31st, 2010
¡Viva México! opens at Wittliff Collections

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General Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata met in the National Palace where they were received by President Eulalio Gutiérrez and members of the diplomatic corps on Dec. 6, 1914. Photo from the Casasola Archive.

STAFF REPORT

Honoring the bicentennial of Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain and the centennial of the 1910 Mexican Revolution, the Wittliff Collections present ¡Viva México!

This photographic exhibit opened on March 29 and will run through July 31. The exhibition is from the Wittliff Collections’ permanent holdings at the Alkek Library on the Texas State campus.

The exhibit is curated by Carla Ellard, assistant curator of the photography collection, and co-arranged with Connie Todd, recently retired director/curator.

More than 100 historical and modern, documentary and art photographs in ¡Viva México! interpret Mexico and testify to the vitality of a subject captured by more than 40 artists who have trained their lenses on Mexico and her people. ¡Viva México! is part of the Texas and Mexico, 1810–2010 Commemoration at Texas State, developed in partnership with the Mexican Consulate of Austin. Commemorative events are listed on Texas State’s calendar at http://www.txstate.edu  and the Consulate’s at http://www.mexico2010austin.com.

Among the historical photographs on exhibit related to the Mexican Revolution is one of the most iconic: Generals Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, taken at the Palacio Nacional on Dec. 6, 1914. Behind Zapata’s left shoulder in the photograph from the Casasola Archive is a boy named Leo Reynosa.

In 1988, Dennis Darling created a portrait series of veterans of the Mexican Revolution, and one of the men featured is the very same Reynosa. In total, five of Darling’s hand-tinted veteran photographs are on view. Edward Larocque Tinker’s photographs of General Villa and General Álvaro Obregón also are part of the show.

Documentary and fine-art photographs broaden the scope of the show, as do the relationships of the photographers.

“There has always been an elaborate and complex brotherhood among Mexican artists of many genres: literature, architecture, music, filmmaking, visual art—perhaps none more elaborate than that of the community of photographers,” Todd said. “They mentor, they compete, they collaborate, they argue, they support … and so it is fitting that we see the connections between the artists in this exhibition.”

Among the highlights are photographs by Hugo Brehme, a recent gift from Susan Toomey Frost. Working in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Brehme is responsible for thousands of pictures of everyday Mexican life that have now become valuable anthropological documents. Manuel Álvarez Bravo, who was mentored by Brehme and interpreted the Mexican aesthetic for over 70 years, also is represented with a new acquisition, Maniquíes riendo/Laughing Mannequins. The works of Bravo student Graciela Iturbide, as well as her student, Mayo Goded, also will be displayed.

“These essential social and artistic connections exist between almost every photographer in the show,” Todd said, “and they lend continuity and strength to the sum of all the works.”

Music adds to the gallery experience. Recordings of corridos (ballads) and other songs written during the Mexican Revolution play throughout the ¡Viva México! show.

¡Viva México! will be celebrated along with Bill Wittliff’s photo series “Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy” on April 17 from 7-9:30 p.m. Bill Wittliff will attend a public reception and Todd will be the guest speaker at a special program. Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP to (512) 245-2313 or thewittliffcollections@txstate.edu.

¡Viva México! and Vaquero are running concurrently. Admission to both shows and the April 17 event is free and open to the public.

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