Tina Modotti

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Tina Modotti

Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti Mondini , known as Tina Modotti (Udine, Italy, August 16, 1896 – Mexico City, Mexico, January 5, 1942) she was an Italian photographer, activist and social fighter in Mexico.

Tina_Modotti’s Biography

Daughter of Giuseppe Modotti and Assunta Mondini, one of five brothers. At age 12 he had to leave school and work in a textile factory to help his family. At age 17 he emigrated to the city of San Francisco. In 1915 (19 years old) he married the poet Roubaix de L’Abrie Richey. After moving to Hollywood, where he ventured into the field of acting, recurring activity in the career of Tina. In 1921 Tina maintains a close working relationship with photographer Edward Weston, with whom she worked as a model and learned photography, being the beginning of Tina’s photographic work.

“Tina Modotti transformed herself, from being an object of beauty used in the art of others, to a professional photographer. As a model, assistant and finally artistic apprentice of Weston, his concept of photography was initially dominated by his aestheticism. Gradually the work of Modotti shows the searches of his own direction and the confidence that he was winning as his political commitment changed his way of seeing the world. His photographs do not lose their sense of form, but their priorities change. “

Between the years 1923-1930 he lived in Mexico, being the place where he carried out most of his work and where he became a revolutionary activist, associating with the Mexican Communist Party in 1927. Sowing friendship with artists such as Antonieta Rivas Mercado, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose Clemente Orozco, Blanca Luz Brum, Vittorio Vidali, Nahui Ollin, Maria Tereza Montoya and Frida Kahlo, collaborated with the Mexican Communist Party in 1927. He actively supported the struggle of Augusto César Sandino and helped found the first Italian anti-fascist committee. In 1928 he met Julio Antonio Mella, a Cuban student leader, when the committee was formed in support of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti.


Julio Antonio Mella was murdered on the night of January 10, 1929 at the corner of Abraham Gonzalez and Morelos, of two shots of revolver caliber 38. Tina was arrested because he was considered under the assumption that he knew the murderer or was his accomplice, in the end this only worked as a smokescreen. The police, however, decided to rule out the statements of three witnesses in favor of Modotti because it was “impossible that some neighbors could see what they say they saw on Thursday shortly after nine, since the moon was very small and down…”. She was released without charges.

In February 1930 she was expelled from Mexico. After being rejected by the governments of the United States, Cuba and the Netherlands, it passes through Berlin to finally reach Moscow. He organized aid missions for political refugees, which led in 1934 to Spain. During the Spanish Civil War he enlisted in the Fifth Regiment and worked in the International Brigades with the name of Maria. Margarita Nelken, in one of the several praises that are made to her activity, tells how she cared for the children who arrived in Almeria after the exodus from the town of Malaga, which was harassed during the journey on foot by the bombing of the Francoist forces .

In 1939 she returned as a refugee, even under the name of Maria, to Mexico, where she continued her political activity, through the Antifascist Alliance Giuseppe Garibaldi. In 1940, President Lázaro Cárdenas canceled his expulsion. He died of a heart attack on January 5, 1942 inside a taxi.

Along with Weston, she mentored Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo. The Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska wrote a novel titled “Tinísima”. Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda wrote a play called “Tina Modotti”.

More Facts about Tina Modotti

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