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Photographer, actor, political activist

April 3rd, 2018

Tina Modotti Photograph. Man looks at newspaper

Tina Modotti, El Machete, 1926. Gelatin silver print, Sheet: 23.8 x 18.8 cm. Gift of Harry and Ann Malcolmson, 2015. © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario.

To celebrate the #5womenartists challenge, we’re highlighting some amazing women artists featured at the AGO as well as incredible women curators who work with them.

Tina Modotti (1896–1942) grew up in Italy and lived in the United States as a silent film actor. But she found her true calling – photography – when she moved to Mexico City in the early 1920s. Surrounded by artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Modotti took pictures of farmers and labourers and became immersed in their lives. These photographs increased her political activism, and eventually she joined the Mexican Communist Party. For the rest of her career, Modotti celebrated workers as unsung heroes in her photographs, elevating those she felt the government had forgotten.

One of the photographs that best displays this is El Machete, which Sophie Hackett, AGO curator of photography, spoke about on Facebook Live.

Watch what she has to say in the video below.

(For optimal viewing, use the Chrome internet browser.)

Sophie Hackett, Curator, Photography talks about Tina Modotti for #5womenartists.

Posted by AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario on Thursday, March 29, 2018


Don’t miss our other stories on #5womenartists, including our feature on Käthe Kollwitz, a leading 20th century German artist known for her etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, sculptures and drawings. Check out our piece on the friendship between Canadian painters Pegi Nicol MacLeod and Marian Dale Scott. Look back at our conversation with Québécois/Abenaki abstract artist Rita Letendre. And discover English artist Mary Ann Alabaster.

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