EXHIBITION ON VIEW
Manuel Carrillo: Mi Querido México
Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Manuel Carrillo: Mi Querido México features 25 enchanting and evocative photographs from the Bank of America Collection. The exhibition reveals the warmth of Carrillo’s personality and his love for his subject matter. Carrillo’s poetic interpretations of everyday life in Mexico, which also serve as social documentation, emphasize his preoccupation with man’s relationship with nature.
In the mid-twentieth century, the sociopolitical landscape of post-Revolutionary Mexico was that of great change, and of a national effort toward establishing a unified Mexican cultural identity. Photographs helped to form a visual language that contributed to the reinforcement and the formation of its national character – and Carrillo’s imagery was a contributing force as to how Mexico saw itself and how it was perceived by the rest of the world.
Known as “El Maestro Méxicano” (The Mexican Master) on both sides of the border, Manuel Carrillo was born in Mexico in 1906 and moved to New York in 1922, where he worked in a series of jobs before returning to Mexico in 1930. He then had a 36-year career as a local agent for the Illinois Central Railroad’s Mexico City office until his retirement. Carrillo died in Mexico City in 1989 at the age of 83.
Although Carrillo didn’t embrace photography until later in his life, it was clear what subjects were closest to his heart from the first time he used his camera to pursue his art: his homeland and its people, especially those in rural areas, children, the elderly and their beloved animals. Though he spent years in the United States before returning to Mexico, he didn’t approach his subjects with an outsider’s curiosity, but with compassion, respect and gentle humor. That perspective is clear in the compelling black-and-white images he captured during the post-revolutionary era in Mexico that are on view in Mi Querido México.
It wasn’t until the age of 49, in 1955, that Carrillo became involved in photography seriously, when he joined the national Club Fotográfico de México and the Photographic Society of America. His first international exhibition came in 1960. It was held at the Chicago Public Library and was called Mi Pueblo (My People)—and, much like the current exhibition, it depicted everyday life in rural Mexico. His work quickly gained recognition as he produced a prodigious number of images, which were widely exhibited in Mexico, the United States, England, China, Hong Kong, Romania and France.