Cross of Chalma/[Cruce de Chalma]

Object Details


Cross of Chalma/[Cruce de Chalma]


Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Mexican, 1902 - 2002)






Gelatin silver print


24 x 16.5 cm (9 7/16 x 6 1/2 in.)


© Colette Urbajtel/Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, SC

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Palm leaves, flowers, ribbons, and paper ornaments decorate this roadside shrine in Chalma, a pilgrimage site not far from Mexico City. Like many of Manuel Alvarez Bravo's photographs, this image explores the devotional aspect of Mexico's daily life.

Since the 1500s pilgrims have been visiting Chalma, where a miracle is believed to have taken place. Christian missionaries, eager to convert the indigenous people, persuaded them to renounce their worship of Otzocteotl, a deity to whom they offered prayers and sacrifices. The miracle occurred when the venerated statue was found shattered and in its place rose a crucified figure. Though nearly five hundred years have passed, Christians still make pilgrimages to the site. In illustrating how the pilgrims mark their route, Alvarez Bravo's photograph reveals the rustic accoutrements of a cultural tradition.


Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Mexican, 1902 - 2002

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
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

Sociedad de Arte Moderno. Fotografías, exh. cat. (México: D.F. Sociedad de Arte Moderno, 1945), p. 65.

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), p. 78.

Livingston, Jane. M Alvarez Bravo, exh. cat. (Boston, Mass.: D. R. Godine; Washington, D.C.: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1978), pl. 51.

Musée de Arte Moderne. Manuel Alvarez Bravo: 303 Photographies, 1920-1986 (Paris: Paris-musées; Paris audiovisuel, 1986), pl. 121.