The Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA) inaugurates one of the most ambitious exhibitions regarding the beginnings of modern photography in Argentina, mainly in Buenos Aires city. With a selection of more than 250 works, the second floor of the museum is a tribute to the artists who photographed, for the first time, the Latin-American country from a none merely documentary perspective. Mundo Propio: Fotografía Moderna Argentina 1927 – 1962 (Own World: Argentinian Modern Photography 1927 – 1962) exhibits the photographs of the great masters that shaped what is now known as Argentine photography.

By Matías Helbig
"Entrada al subte" (Subway entrance), 1959, Juan Di Sandro.

Under Facundo de Zuviría’s curatorship -recognized by his series La siesta argentina (The Argentinian Nap), recently sold by Rolf Art gallery to the MoMA collection-, Mundo Propio presents four evident thematic axes: the city, abstraction, surrealism and dream world, and portrait photography. All of them, especially the city and the abstraction, modern themes par excellence.

In turn, it can also be seen a documentary -understood today as docu-Art- nature that runs through the entire exhibition. In some cases, intentionally as in the photo Noche del fallecimiento de Eva Perón (Eva Perón’s Night Death, 1952) by Juan Di Sandro, or in the series Retratos de Chaco (Portraits of Chaco, near 1937) by Hans Mann, where the subjects photographed comment in the first person their stories. But in other cases, the exhibition presents a documentary record of the time and of a generation of photographers, mostly of European origin, who observe under the pro-European lens some regions of the countryside, on the one hand, and of the mid-century Buenos Aires pulse, on the other. In fact, an edition of the Life American magazine exhibited in one of the showcases of the room, dedicates a whole section to Eva Perón photographed by Gisèle Freund under an almost monarchical aesthetic.

The artists that were selected by Facundo de Zuviría together with MALBA curatorial team directed by Victoria Giraudo, belong to a generation that goes from the end of the 20s to the end of the 60s. Among them, Horacio Coppola with his beautiful photos of Buenos Aires, Greta Stern and his series Dreams, Juan Di Sandro with his night landscapes, Anna Marie Heinrich and her famous self-portraits, Pedro Otero and Sameer Makarius with their surrealist works, Anatole Saderman and his photographs for the book The Wonders of our Indian Plants, Gisèle Freund and her portraits of Eduardo Mallea, Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares; the list is infinite. A genius of the photographic medium next to another.

On the other hand, Mundo Propio was not only designed to honor those who prevailed in the history. Photographers like the Polish Sivul Wilensky, Annemarie Heinrich’s teacher, or the master of urban abstraction, the Argentine Ricardo Sansó, for example, also have their place. "While there was a search to raise the masters of modern Argentine photography," argued De Zuviría, "it also means bringing from the dark those fundamental artists who were forgotten." In this sense, the exhibition has original copies and almost unknown archival materials of a very high artistic and historical value: Coppola’s 1931 Leica contacts selected and ordered by himself; the releases and manifestos of La Carpeta de los 10 (The Ten’s Folder) - a kind of experimental group by Max Jocoby, Annemarie Heinrich, Alex Klein, Fred Schiffer and Boleslaw Senderowicz, among others-; and George Friedman's photo-novels fragments published at the 50s and 60s for specialized galleries.



Located on the last floor of MALBA, the photographs of the 25 artists that constitute the first exhibition dedicated to the exploration of this period (1930-1960) in the South American country will be exhibited until June 9. An exhibition that illustrates an era and a hegemonic way of observing the world.  But also an exhibition that exposes those artists who went beyond the established canons within the photographic medium. Without further ado, a question remains: When will we see such effort and work in Argentina, but at the disposal of prolific contemporary photography? For now, enjoy Mundo Propio / Modern Photography Argentina 1927 - 1962.

Exhibited artists

Juan Bechis, Horacio Coppola, José Costa, Alicia D´Amico, Juan Di Sandro, Gisèle Freund, George Friedman, Manuel Gómez, Annemarie Heinrich, Alex Klein, Sameer Makarius, Hans Mann, Julio Maubecin, Rodolfo Ostermann, Pedro Otero, Humberto Rivas, Anatole Saderman, Ricardo Sansó, Fred Schiffer, Nicolás Schonfeld, Boleslaw Senderowicz y Grete Stern, Augusto Ignacio Vallmitjana, Sivul Wilensky.