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Ruin (A)
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© Colette Urbajtel/Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, SC

Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Mexican, about 1930
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 x 9 9/16 in.
92.XM.23.6

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The images of ruin and decay that Manuel Alvarez Bravo made in the 1930s reflect his experience of reaching adulthood during the Mexican Revolution. In this composition, what once may have been the entrance to a large building looms large in the foreground. The corroded structure evokes the architectural ruins of Mexico's formerly great civilizations--ballcourts, temples, and palatial compounds that served as settings for dramatic rituals. Perhaps Alvarez Bravo was considering this when he named the image Ruin (A), an ambiguous title typical of the ones archaeologists use to demarcate sites.