TINA MODOTTI by Margaret Hooks


Photographer and Revolutionary
Age Range: 1896 - 1942
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 Hooks (a Mexico-based journalist) offers a well-researched, deeply sympathetic, and superbly illustrated biography of the passionate Tina Modotti (1896-1942), whose love of Communism, photography, and men made her a legend in her own time. Modotti emigrated in 1913 from Italy to San Francisco, where she found a niche in theatrical circles, but her marriage to artist Robo Richey soon took her to Hollywood and a brief movie career. Then her close relationship with photographer Edward Weston--as his model, lover, and, ultimately, apprentice--gave more of an outlet for her talent than either her marriage or the movies and, after her husband's death in Mexico, she and Weston went there to experience their own artistic awakening. They contributed to the creative ferment fed by Mexico's political turbulence, but their happiness was short-lived, with Weston returning to the US alone. Modotti--who became the favorite photographer of the muralists Diego Rivera and JosÇ Clemente Orozco--took part increasingly in the revolutionary struggles sweeping the country, but when, in 1929, her exiled Cuban Communist lover was assassinated at her side on a Mexico City street, the ensuing publicity branded her as immoral and she rapidly became persona non grata. Expelled from Mexico, she journeyed through Germany to the Soviet Union, working eventually as a Communist field operative in Spain during the Civil War but abandoning photography entirely. In 1939, Modotti returned secretly to Mexico, only to die mysteriously three years later. A bit marred by unleavened prose, but a thorough account in words and photographs of an exceptional woman whose tragic life was nevertheless one of uncommon achievement. (125 b&w photographs)

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1993
ISBN: 0-04-440879-X
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1993


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