Essential Photography From Mexico for Cinco de Mayo (NSFW)

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As we celebrate Mexican heritage on this Cindo de Mayo, let’s survey this season’s key photography exhibit: Photography in Mexico: Selected Works from the Collections of SFMOMA and Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, on view through July 8. The wide and engaging selection of 150 works from 1920s to the present includes both important Mexican photographers and inspired international artists.

“There is no one ‘Mexican photography,’ but one strand that runs throughout is a synthesis of aesthetics and politics,” curator Jessica McDonalds explains. “We see that with Manuel Álvarez Bravo, and we still see it in work made decades later.” From Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s definitive, surrealistic work in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, through the mid-20th-century photojournalist documentation of Mexican life and the changing urban politics and culture in the ’60s and ’70s, including the emergence of critical theory and art photography, to the present day and meditations on the current issues particular to the U.S.-Mexico border region, this strand holds strong. Check out the slideshow of works from the exhibit, from Lourdes Grobet’s ’80s luchadores in full glory, to Graciela Iturbide’s Oaxacan woman with a crown of taxidermied iguanas, to Oscar Fernando Gómez’s contemporary series from the window of his cab.

Lourdes Grobet, Ponzoña, Arena Coliseo, ca. 1983; gelatin silver print; 14 x 11 in.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of Jane and Larry Reed; © Lourdes Grobet

Graciela Iturbide, La Nuestra Senora de las Iguanas, Juchitan, Oaxaca, Mexico (Our Lady of the Iguanas, Juchitan, Oxaca, Mexico), 1979; gelatin silver print; 17 5/16 x 14 7/16 in.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of the artist; © Graciela Iturbide

Edward Weston, Pirámide del Sol, Teotihuacán, 1923; gelatin silver print; 7 9/16 x 9 1/2 in.; San Francisco Museum of Modern art, gift of Brett Weston; © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents

Enrique Metinides, Rescate de un ahogado en Xochimilco con público reflejado en el agua, (Retrieval of a drowned body from Lake Xochimilco with the public reflected in the water), 1960; gelatin silver print; 13 3/4 x 20 3/4 in.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Anonymous Fund purchase; © Enrique Metinides

Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Half-Nude in Kimono, 1924; gelatin silver print; 9 5/8 x 4 11/16 in.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Albert M. Bender Collection, Albert M. Bender Bequest Fund purchase; © 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents

Alejandro Cartagena, Fragmented Cities, Juarez #2 from the series Suburbia Mexicana, 2007; inkjet print; 20 x 24 in.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Alejandro Cartagena

Nacho López, Constructores de ataúdes, Calle Nonoalco, Ciudad de México (Coffin Manufacturers, Nonoalco Street, Mexico City), 1959; printed later; gelatin silver print; 10 1/4 in. x 8 3/4 in. (26.04 cm x 22.23 cm); Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; © Estate of Nacho López / CONACULTA-INAH

Oscar Fernando Gómez, Untitled from The Windows Series, 2008-2010; inkjet print; 17 1/4 in. x 24 in. (43.82 cm x 60.96 cm); Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; © Oscar Fernando Gómez

Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Y es plata, cemento o brisa, ca. 1985; gelatin silver print; 8 9/16 in. x 12 3/4 in. (21.75 cm x 32.39 cm); Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; © Pablo Ortiz Monasterio

Paolo Pellegrin, USA. El Paso, Texas. May 17, 2011. Two men, who illegally attempted to enter the U.S., run across the dry Rio Grande river back to Juarez, Mexico after being spotted by the US Border Patrol, 2011; inkjet print; 15 3/16 in. x 22 3/4 in. (38.58 cm x 57.79 cm); Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; © Paolo Pellegrin

Yvonne Venegas, Nirvana from the series Maria Elvia De Hank, 2006; inkjet print; 19 1/2 in. x 24 in. (49.53 cm x 60.96 cm); Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; © Yvonne Venegas

Lola Álvarez Bravo, Los gorrones, ca. 1955, printed later; gelatin silver print; 9 5/8 in. x 11 3/4 in. (24.45 cm x 29.85 cm); Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; © 1995 Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Foundation

Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Parabola optica (Optical Parable), 1931; gelatin silver print; 9 3/4 in. x 7 1/4 in. (24.77 cm x 18.42 cm); Collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser; © Colette Urbajtel / Asociación Manuel Álvarez Bravo