Graciela Iturbide is a Mexican photographer and artist whose photographs seem to straddle the line between stark reality and another dream world. She was a creative child who dabbled with a camera in her youth, but she didn’t dedicate herself to photography until after marriage, motherhood, and the devastating loss of one of her children. She became an apprentice for the photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, honing her skills and learning to wait for the right shots.
Her career took off; she’s known for photographing indigenous communities in Mexico and the United States, but she has traveled the world to photograph landscapes and communities for international publications. When Frida Kahlo’s bedroom was unsealed in 2004, Iturbide one of the few artists granted access to the private quarters.
I came across this book online by accident, and I’m so glad I did. It’s written by Isabel Quintero (of Gabi, a Girl in Pieces fame) and illustrated by Zeke Peña. The book is produced by The Getty Museum, so the creators had rights to use photographs that would probably have been too cost-prohibitive to include in any other circumstance. As such, readers get access to a unique graphic novel that includes a mixture of photography and illustration.
I loved this book because it introduces readers to a Mexican artist that most people probably weren’t aware of — myself included. Those who are looking for a more straightforward biography might be disappointed; the book touches on key moments in Iturbide’s life, but much of it focuses on the stories and ideas behind some of her more famous photographs. Then again, her way of seeing the world is inextricable from the art she produces, and Quintero and Peña do a beautiful job of capturing that concept.
Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide was released in 2018 by Getty Publications, an imprint of Abrams Books.