Graciela Iturbide

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Graciela Iturbide
Photograph of photographer Graciela Iturbide.jpg
Born Graciela Iturbide
Mexico City, Mexico
Nationality Mexican
Education Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Known for Photography

Graciela Iturbide (born 1942 in Mexico City) is a Mexican photographer.


Graciela Iturbide was born in Mexico in 1942, the eldest of thirteen children. She was exposed to photography early on in life. Her father took pictures of her and her siblings and she got her first camera when she was 11 years old. When she was a child, her father put all the photographs in a box and she said "it was a great treat to go to the box and look at these photos, these memories."[1] She then married the architect Manuel Rocha Díaz in 1962 and had three children over the next eight years.

Iturbide turned to photography after the death of her six-year-old daughter, Claudia, in 1970. She studied at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where she met her mentor, the teacher, cinematographer and photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo. She traveled with Bravo and learned that "there is always time for the pictures you want."[2] Iturbide photographs everyday life, almost entirely in black-and-white. She was inspired by the photography of Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastiao Salgado and Álvarez Bravo.[3] She became interested in the daily life of Mexico's indigenous cultures and has photographed life in Mexico City, Juchitán, Oaxaca and on the Mexican/American border (La Frontera.)

In 1979, Iturbide was asked by painter Francisco Toledo to photograph his village, Juchitán de Zaragoza, where the women were economically, politically, and sexually independent.[4] Interested by the proposal, Iturbide released her first collection, titled Mujer Ángel (Angel Woman) and shot in Mexico's portion of the Sonoran desert. Her first experience as a photographer shaped Iturbide's views on life, making her a strong supporter of feminism. The image of Mujer Ángel was used by the politically charged metal group Rage Against The Machine for their single "Vietnow" in 1997.

Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas

Some of the inspiration for her next work came from her support of feminist causes. Her well known collection, Señora de Las Iguanas, (Our Lady of the Iguanas) was also shot in Juchitán de Zaragoza. This piece inspired two filmmakers from Los Angeles, Susan Streitfeld and Julie Herbert, who used the photograph as an icon in their 1996 film entitled Female Preservations.[5] Her work in Juchitán was not only about women, however: she also shot "Magnolia", a photo of a man wearing a dress and looking at himself on a mirror. It was "Magnolia" that has led many photography experts to say that Iturbide also explored sexuality among Mexicans with her work.

Iturbide has also photographed Mexican Americans in the White Fence barrio of East Los Angeles as part of the documentary book A Day in the Life of America (1987). She has worked in Argentina (during 1996), India (where she shot another well known photo of hers, "Perros Perdidos", or "Lost Dogs"), and the United States, where she did her last known work, an untitled collection of photos shot in Texas.

One of the major concerns in her work has been "to explore and articulate the ways in which a vocable such as 'Mexico' is meaningful only when understood as an intricate combination of histories and practices." [6]

She is a founding member of the Mexican Council of Photography. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is included in many major museum collections including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum. The largest collection of original prints in the United States is located at the Wittliff Collections, Texas State University.

She continues to live and work in Coyoacán, Mexico.

In awarding her the 2008 Hasselblad Foundation award, the Foundation said:

Graciela Iturbide is considered one of the most important and influential Latin American photographers of the past four decades. Her photography is of the highest visual strength and beauty. Graciela Iturbide has developed a photographic style based on her strong interest in culture, ritual and everyday life in her native Mexico and other countries. Iturbide has extended the concept of documentary photography, to explore the relationships between man and nature, the individual and the cultural, the real and the psychological. She continues to inspire a younger generation of photographers in Latin America and beyond.[7]

The largest institutional collection of Graciela Iturbide photographs in the United States is preserved at the Wittliff collections, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX.[8]


  • Images of the spirit. (1996) New York, Aperture Foundation. ISBN 0-89381-681-7
  • La Forma y la Memoria (1996) ("Form and Memory")
  • Eyes to fly with: portraits, self-portraits, and other photographs. (2006). Austin, University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-71462-9
  • Iturbide. (2003) tf. editores, Madrid. ISBN 84-96209-48-2
  • Torrijos: The Man and the Myth. (2008) Umbrage Editions, Madrid. ISBN 978-1-884167-68-3
  • Graciela Iturbide: Juchitán. (2007) Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum.


Exhibitions (selected)[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gili, M. (2006). Graciela Iturbide. London, Phaidon. ISBN 0-7148-4570-1
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1980). 7 portafolios Mexicanos: exposición por diversos países, Centro Cultural de México, abril-mayo de 1980. UNAM Difusión Cultural - in Spanish


  1. ^ Iturbide, Graciela; Bradu, Fabienne (2006). Eyes to Fly With: Portraits, Self-Portraits, and Other Photographs. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 3. 
  2. ^ Iturbide, Graciela; Keller, Judith (2007). Graciela Iturbide: Juchitán. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 1. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Iturbide, Graciela; Keller, Judith (2007). Graciela Iturbide: Juchitán. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 2. 
  5. ^ Iturbide, Graciela; Keller, Judith (2007). Graciela Iturbide: Juchitán. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 4. 
  6. ^ Iturbide, Graciela; Tajeda, Roberto; López Austin, Alfredo (1996). Images of the Spirit. New York: Aperture Foundation. p. 12. 
  7. ^ The 2008 Hasselblad Award Winner - Graciela Iturbide, Hasselblad Foundation, 2008, archived from the original (– Scholar search) on June 3, 2008, retrieved 2008-06-17 [dead link]
  8. ^ Graciela Iturbide Photographs at The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX. Retrieved 3 June, 2016.
  9. ^ Graciela Iturbide Wins Hasselblad Foundation Photography Award, ARTINFO, March 20, 2008, retrieved 2008-05-20 
  10. ^ Torrijos: The Man and the Myth. Retrieved 18 August, 2014.
  11. ^

External links[edit]