Kiln/[La Quema]

Object Details

Title:

Kiln/[La Quema]

Artist/Maker(s):

Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Mexican, 1902 - 2002)

Culture:

Mexican

Date:

negative 1957; print 1974

Medium:

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions:

16.4 x 23.8 cm (6 7/16 x 9 3/8 in.)

Copyright:

© Colette Urbajtel/Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, SC

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Billowing, black smoke fills the sky, obscuring the grazing burro on the right, in this photograph of an adobe brick kiln. Manuel Alvarez Bravo called this image La Quema, a term meaning "the fire" or "the burning." Depicting a landscape threatened by human industry, the image may symbolize more sinister historical events. Alvarez Bravo, who came of age during the violent Revolution of 1910-1920, often saw dead bodies burning in the street.

The Mexican people may have viewed the kiln--a site of fiery transmutations--as an allusion to the Spaniards' conquest and purging of the Aztecs in the 1500s. About this image, one historian has said: "The photograph does not project sorrow or excessive drama, but quiet and noble resignation. Even the human figure standing at the base of the kiln/pyramid has an attitude, extremely Mexican in character, of resigned acceptance of destiny."

Exhibitions
Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Optical Parables (November 13, 2001 to February 9, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 13, 2001 to February 17, 2002
  • Museo Nacional de Arte, (Mexico City), March 14 to June 2, 2002
  • Walker Art Center, (Minneapolis), November 10, 2002 to February 9, 2003
Bibliography

Trueblood, Beatrice. Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Photographies 1928-1968, exh. cat. (Mexico City: Comité Organizador de los Juegos de la XIX Olimpiada, Departamento de Publicaciones, 1968) pp. 72-73. (variant cropping and titled "La Quema Tres").

Perez, Nissan N. Dreams--Visions--Metaphors: The Photographs of Manuel Alvarez Bravo, exh. catalogue, essay by Ian Jeffrey (Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1983) p. 15.

Salas Pablo Ruíz Picasso. Manuel Álvarez Bravo, exh. cat. (Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas Artes y Archivos, 1985) pl. 49, p. 87 (slight variant).

Musée de Arte Moderne. Manuel Alvarez Bravo: 303 Photographies, 1920-1986 (Paris: Paris-musées; Paris audiovisuel, 1986) pl. 155.

Del Conde, Teresa. Mucho Sol (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989) pl. 59 (variant).

Museum of Photographic Arts. Revelaciones: The Art of Manuel Alvarez Bravo, exh. cat. (San Diego, Calif.: Museum of Photographic Arts, 1990) pl. 18.