Words can’t describe the positive feedback I’ve received from readers for this blog over the past year. I’m touched and overwhelmed by it. What has moved me the most is that such a wide variety of creative folks have responded with so much enthusiasm, from all corners of the globe. Among them are fine artists, illustrators, art models (and aspiring art models!) cartoonists, writers, graphic designers, sculptors, and, lately, a surge in photographers and fine art photography models. It’s amazing, and awesome! Common threads. Shared enjoyment. Collective inspiration. I read and respond to every single comment on this blog and read and respond to every single email. It gratifies me almost as much as art modeling itself.
So what is at the root of our united interest? Why do so many of us gather here on a semi-regular basis? I look at my blog stats, and I am absolutely baffled. Thrilled, but baffled. I say that with sincerest humility. I’d like to flatter myself and claim that it’s my personality , and although that might be a tiny part of it, I know it’s not at the crux of Museworthy’s attraction. No, what’s at the heart of all this is the graphic aspect. The life forms. The expression of humanity through the visual arts. Body, flesh, face, limbs, souls, and spirits. The pleasure of looking at life, whether through paint, pencil, plaster, ink, clay, or photography. The latter takes center stage today.
Yes, this post is my little “shout out” to the photographic artists and their life subjects. They are the documenters, the chroniclers, the diarists. They’ve been stopping by Museworthy, and I’m so honored to have them here. Although I don’t do photography myself, I realize more than ever how interconnected our respective fields are. Who knows? They might even liberate me from my “film phobia”.
So what better way to begin yet another new chapter for this blog than with a woman who filled both roles, and filled them with tremendous passion and intensity. She was Tina Modotti. And while I usually take the time to do thorough, detailed biographical research on my post subjects, I’ll be somewhat brief this time only because I am blown away by the images and am eager to put them up. Plus it’s late and I’m working a lot the next couple of days and refuse to let Museworthy go too long without a fresh post. Yes, I’ve developed an insane fear of “dead blog air” and have become fervent about steady blogging momentum and activity. Yeah, I know. I’m nuts.
Tina Modotti was born in Italy in 1913 and emigrated to the United States – California specifically – when she was a teenager. There she met the man who would represent the most significant relationship of her life – photographer Edward Weston. Tina became his apprentice, assistant, and lover. Together, they settled in Mexico City.
Weston photograph of Tina. Her total inhibition and comfort with her nude body before the camera jumps right out at you. She’s not just posing. She’s fully and completely there. Plus, she looks damn good.
A Communist, Tina became heavily involved in radical politics and the Mexican Communist Party. Moving in those circles she inevitably befriended who else but fellow die-hard Communist, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. She became not only one of Diego’s favorite art models, having posed for several of his murals, but also a close friend and comrade. Yes, lover too.
Another Weston picture of Tina, White Iris. Haunting and beautiful:
I’m probably stretching here a little, but she looks – just a little – like me. Maybe? Possibly? Ah, just a tiny bit. I see a little something similar. The nose is off. But I’ll take it, whatever it is
Tina’s own photographic output occurred for a relatively brief period, between 1923 and 1930. Her commitment to political and social causes eventually consumed a great deal of her time, along with her complicated romantic life. She liked men a lot, and made no secret of it. But the one thing for which she had greater affinity than male lovers was the plight of laborers and the indigenous people of Mexico. They are the ones she chose as the predominant subjects for her photography. Daily life of the impoverished and disenfranchised.
What symbolizes hard work, struggle, and oppressed labor more than human hands? Nothing. The observant Tina knew this. Here is her photo Hands Washing:
Woman with Olla:
By the 1930s, Tina was fully immersed in radical, revolutionary politics, and surrounded herself with dissidents, avant-guardists, and vocal activists. In 1936, she went to Spain to participate in relief missions during the Spanish Civil War. She eventually returned to her beloved Mexico.
In 1942, Tina Modotti died under very suspicious circumstances. Her old friend Diego Rivera was convinced that she was murdered because of her political activities. Regardless, Tina Modotti was undoubtedly one of the most fascinating, passionate, talented, and visionary women of the 20th century.
I’d like to conclude with what is considered Tina’s most famous photograph. It’s titled simply Roses. In 1991, it was sold at auction at Sotheby’s for $165, 000, the highest price ever paid for a photograph up to that time:
Photography friends of Museworthy. Beauty. Art. Nudity. Images. And, most importantly, life subjects: