1942, printed 1977
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Gelatin silver print
Image: 24 x 17.4 cm (9 7/16 x 6 7/8 in.); Paper: 25.3 x 20.2 cm (9 15/16 x 7 15/16 in.); Matted: 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Stumberg 1985.220.11
© Colette Urbajtel/ Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, S.C
Manual Alvarez Bravo assigned titles to his photographs that hinted at deeper meanings and engaged in word play. In titling this image taken on the seacoast, he alluded to the common name for the Spanish mackerel (held by the girl) and to the word’s other meanings. "Sierra," the name for this notoriously toothy fish, is also the word for saw, as well as the word for any rugged mountain range with an irregular profile—a possible reference to the shape formed by the shawl over this indigenous Mexican girl’s head. Alvarez Bravo has been celebrated as Mexico’s greatest photographer. On the effect that growing up during that country’s revolutionary violence had on his work, Alvarez said "the concept of death is explicit or implicit in my photographs." He was known for attempting to capture a popular art, one that he saw as traditionally Mexican, incorporating youth and beauty with representations of fate and death. Most of his images lack grandeur, presenting instead mysterious or poignant views of everyday objects and working- and middle-class Mexicans, many of whom appear to be calmly dreamlike.
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