a group of 5 photographs, including a platinum print by Jane Reece; Portrait in Kimono by Walter F. Seely; Portrait in Hat by Victoria studio, signed and dedicated by Modotti in ink in the image; Nude with Lace; and Closeup, 1918-20s (5)
Gift of Modotti's sister, Yolanda Modotti Magrini, circa 1980, to Mildred Constantine (1913 – 2008), the founder of Tina Modotti studies, and the only Modotti biographer to have met the photographer
By descent to the present owner, 2009
Mildred Constantine, A Fragile Life (New York, 1983), pp. 22-23 and 31-32
Valentina Agostinis, Tina Modotti: Gli Anni Luminosi, pp. 15, 37, 39, 41, and 79
Chrstiane Barckhausen-Canale, Verdad y Leyenda de Tina Modotti, pp. 68 and 109
These photographs and those in the preceding lot come originally from the collection of the late Mildred Constantine (1913 – 2008), scholar, curator, author, editor, and the founder of Tina Modotti studies. Constantine met Modotti in 1941, and is the only Modotti biographer to have met the photographer.
As an art historian, Constantine had encountered Modotti's images for Mexican Folkways in the 1920s. In the 1930s, Constantine herself had traveled to Mexico, first as a graduate student in Mexican colonial art and later as a member of the Committee Against War and Fascism. From 1948 to 1970, Constantine worked at The Museum of Modern Art, where she championed art that fell outside the mainstream—graphic, product and package design, typography, and posters—and in doing so, raised their status. In addition to exhibitions about industrial and graphic designers Vignelli, Lustig, and Yokoo, she wrote scholarly works about art nouveau and package design. Constantine's career at MoMA overlapped with that of Rene d'Harnoncourt, director of the museum from 1949 to 1967, and a member of Modotti's artistic and social circle in Mexico in decades prior.
After leaving the museum, Constantine was an independent consultant and curator and in 1971, while searching for photographs by Modotti for a proposed exhibition of her work at MoMA, she discovered more about the photographer's life. In 1975, Constantine published Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life, the first monograph about the photographer. The prints offered here were gifts to Constantine from Tina Modotti's sister, Yolanda Modotti Magrini, and are from a family album. All were used to illustrate the book, and several have subsequently appeared in other books about the photographer.
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