February 12, 2007

Romualdo Garcia


I'm always surprised when my fellow photographers don't know the work of Romualdo Garcia. After Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Agustin Casasola he's one of the icons of early Mexican photography. Garcia was based in Guanajuato where he ran a busy portrait studio for almost 60 years. Unlike most studio photographers who toil in obscurity his mastery was recognized in his own lifetime and he won the bronze medal at the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris. Despite his fame, he never travelled outside the city of his birth, always giving the excuse that there were too many clients waiting, too many portraits to take.

There are several Spanish language books on Garcia. The best is probably Romualdo Garcia, un fotagrafo, una ciudad, una epoca.

Related: Seydou Keita, more on Seydou Keita, part of my collection of photostudio portraits from tibet, Colors Magazine issue on Photo Studios

posted at 12:27 PM by raul

Filed under: photographers

TAGS: Guanajuato (1) mexico (14) photographer (15) photostudio (10) vernacular (14)


02/13/07 09:51 AM

Romualdo: One of my favourites! Which version have you got? There are two that I know of of "Un fotógrafo, una ciudad, una época". I have the cheap one, printed in monotone and with no proper contrast (It has a grey dust jacket and Romualdo García is printed in cyan): The images suffer. But there's a copy -the good version-, which is larger and well printed, in NYPL Bryant Park, that I encourage consulting. The story of Romualdo's life is also very interesting.

But it's amazing -or is it?- how far a good or bad printing will go in the appreciation of thea photographer. It happened to me even more drasticallly with Hollywood photographer George Hurrell. There are a lot of Hurrell pictures, scattered here and there, but I have seen only one book that does them justice: the exquisite "The book of stars: photographien 1928-1990/ by George Hurrell" Schirmer/Mosel c1991. Also in the Bryant Park NYPL, by the way.

02/13/07 11:51 AM

I didn't know about the 2 versions until yesterday when a couple of people wrote in. There is version that is about 70 pages and a second version around 164 pages (this is the one I have -a 2nd edition printed in 1980 in an edition of 1000). I'm guessing this is the larger book you mentioned in the NYPL.

I don't have a solo Hurrell book but many of his images are in Masters of Starlight: Photographers in Hollywood. This is a beautiful book put together by the legendary LA photography guru/gallerist David Fahey. You've just given me a good excuse to go to the NYPL though... The reading room is one of my favorite places on earth.

02/13/07 01:34 PM

Raúl: I haven't seen David Fahey's book. Thanks for the recommendation. The version you have of Romualdo's is the same one I have, second ed., edition of 1000, 164 pages. I remember being slightly disappointed when the book arrived from an alibris dealer. I had seen what my memory distinctly recalled (wrongly?) as a larger book and with better printing. Check it out if you can. I cannot, having moved out of NY (to Uruguay, where I'm from) some years ago.

The Hurrell book is brilliant and is utterly out of print. It includes his classic portraits from the thirties & forties, but also a few from the eighties and early nineties, before his death in 1992. Apparently he was "rediscovered" at some point and enjoyed a kind of revival, with many celebrities flocking to him to get that genuine touch of glam from this hero of the past (Sharon Stone, Brooke Shields, Paul Mc Cartney if my memory does not fail, among others). You will certainly enjoy it.

02/13/07 02:26 PM

Someone else just emailed from Mexico saying that knockoff copies of the larger version of the Garcia book that are sold in the shops surrounding the museum in Guanajuato and that the quality of these books is poor.

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