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Product Tag: Manuel Carrillo (Mexican 1906-1989)

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: Motivated, connected and inspired Manuel Carrillo (b. Mexico City, 1906 – d. Mexico City, 1989) was successful in many undertakings from a young age. Unlike family member’s (his grandfather Lauro Carrillo a close friend of Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz and Uncle Mexican President Adolfo Ruiz Cortine) politics was not a career path. After attending several private schools, he briefly worked in the film industry before moving to New York at the age of 17 and working, between NY and Chicago, a variety of odd jobs from Dish Washer, to Dance Teacher (winning major awards), even at the Wall Street Firm of Neuss Hesslein and Co. before returning to Mexico and, applying his new proficiency in English, becoming involved with Alberto L. Bravo in the pioneering tourist industry. Shorty after this he took a job at the Illinois Central Railroad where he became the manager for their Mexican operations. At the age of 49 he married Consuelo Cadena and for the first time began taking photographs, joining the Club Fotográfico de Mexico and Photographic Society of America.

Within the ranks of these two organizations, he developed his art and a reputation as an artistic genius, often called “El Maestro Mexicano” or “El Fotógrafo del Pueblo” for his mastery of the photographic medium and his skill in capturing the essence of the Mexican people following the Mexicanidad principles encouraged by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, although deviating in approach from the works of Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Henri Cartier-Bresson. With the help of friend and contemporary Frank Christopher, a photographer and collector, and Arnold Gilbert of the Gilbert Gallery in Chicago, his career was launched with his first international exhibition, titled Mi Pueblo (“My People”), at the Chicago Public Library, 1958. Since then Carrillo’s work has been seen on four continents in 209 solo exhibitions and in 27 group exhibits. In 1987, Manuel Carrillo: fotografias de Mexico, a monograph his work was published.

Carrillo’s works are held by many private collections, universities, and museums, including the Victorian and Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and at least 30 other museums. In 1991, the University of Texas at El Paso purchased an archive of photographs and papers from his widow, and the collection is now housed in the C. L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department of the University Library.

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