The Unbandaged #2
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© Colette Urbajtel/Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, SC

Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Mexican, 1939
Gelatin silver print
7 3/16 x 9 1/2 in.

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With one arm outstretched and the other holding her bandage in place, this young woman leans against the weathered wall of an unknown building. The scene is mysterious and perplexing. What is this strange arrangement of bandages? Was this woman injured? If so, why is she outdoors? Why is she topless?

In 1938 Manuel Alvarez Bravo made this photograph on the rooftop of the national arts school where he was teaching. The image, from the session of Good Reputation 1/2/3, uses the same model. But instead of illustrating a sleepy eroticism, in Unbandaged #2 she undresses, adjusts, and removes the bandages, actively engaging the viewer in a dance of seduction. Overtly sexual themes were central to the Surrealist movement, which greatly influenced Alvarez Bravo.