That Tina Modotti Mug at MOMA - NotTuesday, July 10, 2018
In January when Rosemary and I visited New York City we bought a couple of enameled pewter mugs at MOMA with Frida Kahlo’s image on them. They were made in Mexico. We bought them as pasalubums (Tagalog for gifts you buy abroad to bring back to relatives and friends) for one of our Mexican-born daughters.
I believe that by now we should find other Mexican female icons with feminist views. One I have written about is Nahui Olin. Another is Italian-born Tina Modotti. The latter singlehandedly photographed in the 20s the murals (and sometimes including the muralists) of Diego Rivera, Clemente Orozco and David Álvaro Siqueiros. These photographs made the Mexican muralists known to Europe and the rest of the world.
Tina Modotti became the lover and model of Edward Weston during his stay in Mexico when they lived on Calle Veracruz in what is now the Colonia Roma in Mexico City. In his diaries Weston wrote longingly and with affection of his sentimental and photographic relationship with Modotti.
Because Modotti had leftist tendencies far to the left she was deported from Mexico in 1930. Somehow she turned up fighting against Franco in the Spanish Civil War and returned to Mexico where she died in 1942 (I must find out where she is buried!).
Sometimes I write here on how my Argentine friends who do not speak or read English miss out on wonderful literature that is not translated into Spanish. On the other hand I tell my friends here in Vancouver (they have no idea of who the man is) that I have read the complete output of Alejo Carpentier whose books I found in Spanish at the UBC Library.
Here is an example of a book that as far as I know has not been translated into English. Perhaps if it ever is, I might then find some mugs with Modotti’s face on them at MOMA.
If you have gotten this far then I dare reproduce here a photograph I took a year after I saw the cover of Modotti’s book. It is by San Francisco artist Ottis Oldfield dated 1933. I was inspired but tried to put a modern twist to it.