The J. Paul Getty Museum

Striking Worker Murdered

Object Details


Striking Worker Murdered


Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Mexican, 1902 - 2002)




Mexico (Place Created)




Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



19.1 × 24.1 cm (7 1/2 × 9 1/2 in.)


© Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, S.C.

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Object Description

Manuel Alvarez Bravo made this startling photograph of a murdered union leader after following the sound of what he thought were fireworks. Instead, he arrived upon the scene of a sugar-mill labor strike, where shots were being fired. With two frames left in his camera, Alvarez Bravo moved in close and framed his subject so that the the top border of the photograph would press against the victim's body, as if it were the lid of a coffin. A trail of blood spills into the image's lower right corner.

Without denying his handsome features or dignity, Alvarez Bravo portrayed the felled worker neither as a hero nor as a martyr, but simply as a sacrifice. As one historian has observed: "The offering of human lives in ancient Mexico was natural; [the worker's] death is no more than a ritual sacrifice to the gods of society, a mere necessity for the well-being of the Mexican people…"


Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Mexican, 1902 - 2002


Lester Burbank Bridaham (Chicago, Illinois), purchased directly from the photographer.


Michael G. Wilson (London, England and Los Angeles, California), purchased from Bridaham.

Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Recuerdo de unos años (September 22 to December 6, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), September 22 to December 6, 1992
World Without End (December 1, 2000 to February 25, 2001)
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), December 1, 2000 to February 21, 2001
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
In Focus: The Worker (November 3, 2009 to March 21, 2010)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 3, 2009 to March 21, 2010
Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910 - 1940 (July 6 to September 29, 2013)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), July 6 to September 29, 2013

Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Optical Parables, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum), fig. 5.

Sociedad de Arte Moderno. Fotografías, exh. cat. (México: D.F. Sociedad de Arte Moderno, 1945), p. 77.

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. 84-85.

Pasadena Art Museum and Fred R. Parker. Manuel Alvarez Bravo, exh. cat. (Pasadena, Calif: Pasadena Art Museum, 1971), pl. 21.

Roche, Denis. Manuel Alvarez Bravo (Paris: Photogalerie, 1976?), pl. XV.

Livingston, Jane. M Alvarez Bravo, exh. cat. (Boston, Mass.: D. R. Godine; Washington, D.C.: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1978), pl. 45.

Academia de Artes. Manuel Alvarez Bravo (Mexico: Academia de Artes, 1980), p. 41.

Paz, Octavio and A. Muñoz, ed. Instante y Revelación (México: Circulo Editorial, 1982).

Perez, Nissan N. Dreams--Visions--Metaphors: The Photographs of Manuel Alvarez Bravo, exh. catalogue, essay by Ian Jeffrey (Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1983), pl. 33.

Salas Pablo Ruíz Picasso. Manuel Álvarez Bravo, exh. cat. (Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas Artes y Archivos, 1985), pl. 68.

Musée de Arte Moderne. Manuel Alvarez Bravo: 303 Photographies, 1920-1986 (Paris: Paris-musées; Paris audiovisuel, 1986), pl. 60.

Galerie Sonia Zannettacci. L'oeil du Minotaure: Ubac, Brassaï, Alvarez Bravo, Bellmer, Man Ray, exh. cat. (Genève: Sonia Zannettacci, 1987).

Del Conde, Teresa. Mucho Sol (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989), p. 79.