Urgent Museum Notice

Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico

A black-and-white photograph shows the back of a woman as she crests a rocky path above a vast desert landscape beneath an expansive sky. Her traditional, ethnic full skirt, long-sleeved blouse, and long, straight, dark hair contrasts with the modern portable stereo she carries.
Feb 28 to Aug 23, 2020

For the past 50 years, Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942, Mexico City) has produced majestic, powerful, and sometimes visceral images of her native Mexico. One of the most influential contemporary photographers of Latin America, Iturbide transforms ordinary observation into personal and lyrical art. Her signature black-and-white gelatin silver prints present nuanced insights into the communities she photographs, revealing her own journey to understand her homeland and the world.

Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is the artist’s most extensive U.S. exhibition in more than two decades, comprising 140 photographs organized around nine themes. Her photographs that document the Seri, Juchitán, and Mixtec societies offer compelling insight into the daily lives and customs of indigenous men and women. Iturbide demonstrates her deep awareness of complex cultural symbols through representations of processions honoring the dead, as well as lavish, exuberant fiestas that highlight Mexico’s pre-Hispanic and Spanish heritages. Her depictions of animals, birds, and plants are rendered with as much sensitivity as her images of people, calling attention to the relationship between human presence and nature.

Also featured are Iturbide’s haunting snapshots of Frida Kahlo’s personal items left at her home, Casa Azul (Blue House), after Kahlo’s death. The photographs connect Iturbide to Kahlo, another of Mexico’s most celebrated artists, as two women who have used their craft to grapple with—and transcend—the hardships and tragedies of life.

Black and white photograph of a Mexican woman looking off into the distance. She wears a floral blouse and five iguanas sit atop her head at different angles, as if she were wearing a crown.

Graciela Iturbide, Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas (Our Lady of the Iguanas), Juchitán, 1979; Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; © Graciela Iturbide; Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Exhibition Sponsors

Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Presentation of the exhibition at NMWA is made possible by RBC Wealth Management and City National Bank with additional support provided by the Sue J. Henry and Carter G. Phillips Exhibition Fund and Agnes Gund.

The museum extends appreciation to the Embassy of Mexico and the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C.

  • MFA Boston
  • Mexcid
  • Mexican Cultural Institute
  • Embassy of Mexico logo
  • RBC and City National Bank
A black-and-white photograph of a woman in profile from the shoulders down with feathery white wings on her back walking and hoisting up her silky white dress.
Graciela Iturbide, Cayó del cielo (Fallen from Heaven), Chalma, 1989; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum purchase with funds donated by John and Cynthia Reed, Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund, Barbara M. Marshall Fund, Lucy Dalbiac Luard Fund, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund for Photography, Francis Welch Fund, and Jane M. Rabb Fund for Film and Photography; © Graciela Iturbide; Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Related Quote

I have always said that my camera is a pretext to know the culture, its people, and the way of life…I photograph with the surprise of what I find and the passion that I have in my work and I learn the different ways of living in my country.”
Graciela Iturbide, 2019

Exhibition Events

Related Media

Online Exhibition

A black-and-white photograph of a woman in profile from the shoulders down with feathery white wings on her back walking and hoisting up her silky white dress.
This online exhibition provides an immersive look at the themes and many works from the exhibition, with text in both English and Spanish.

Catalogue

Cover of the exhibition catalogue titled 'Gracieal Iturbide's Mexico' shows a black and white photo of the front of a bicycle with an animal scull and horns in place of handlebars.
Graciela Iturbide's Mexico: Photographs presents more than 100 beautifully reproduced black-and-white photographs accompanied by illuminating essays.

Videos

Still photograph from a video about the artist shows an older woman with light skin and dark hair sitting at a table.
Explore this online playlist of videos related to the exhibition and to the life and work of Graciela Iturbide.

Large Print Labels

A medium light-skinned young woman in a black top crosses her arms while reading a gallery exhibition label intently.
Access all exhibition text in large print format for ease of reading as you explore the galleries.

Related Blog Post

In 1979, Graciela Iturbide traveled to Juchitán, a small town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, to photograph the Zapotec indigenous group. She immersed herself in the community during a series of visits in which the Zapotec conveyed their social structures and cultural practices to the artist on their own terms.
A black-and-white photograph shows the back of a woman as she crests a rocky path above a vast desert landscape beneath an expansive sky. Her traditional, ethnic full skirt, long-sleeved blouse, and long, straight, dark hair contrasts with the modern portable stereo she carries.
Graciela Iturbide, Mujer Ángel (Angel Woman), Sonoran Desert, 1979; Collection of Elizabeth and Michael Marcus; © Graciela Iturbide; Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston