Tina Modotti

  • born Italy, 1896 - 1942
  • Photographer
  • American

Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti Mondini, nicknamed Assuntina, and later "Tina," was the daughter of an Italian machinist who immigrated to the United States in 1906. Modotti worked in a textile factory before joining her father in 1913 in San Francisco, where she worked as a seamstress and dressmaker. In 1917 she made her debut as an actress. She got married and moved to Hollywood the following year.

While working as an actress, Modotti met Edward Weston and began a romance with him around 1921. Her husband died in Mexico the next year, prompting her first visit to the country she would return to photograph in 1923, first as Weston's assistant and apprentice and later as his professional partner. She published her images, which included portrait studies, in the magazines Mexican Folkways and Formas. In 1927 Modotti joined the Communist Party, and her political affiliations and activities caused her to be deported from Mexico in 1930. Putting photography aside, she moved to Moscow, where she worked for International Red Aid, a relief organization. After having been allowed to return to Mexico in 1939, she died there of heart failure three years later.