Kiln/[La Quema]

Object Details


Kiln/[La Quema]


Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Mexican, 1902 - 2002)




negative 1957; print 1974


Gelatin silver print


16.4 × 23.8 cm (6 7/16 × 9 3/8 in.)


© Colette Urbajtel/Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, SC

See more

See less

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."

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

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.