Modotti, Tina (1896-1942)
Between 1924 and 1928 Modotti made several hundred photographs of Diego Rivera’s fresco cycle depicting events of the Mexican revolution painted on the walls of the Ministry of Education in Mexico City. In the Trenches, the panel presented here, is located on the third floor of the Court of the Fiestas and shows peasant revolutionaries preparing to do battle with landowners. It is the second panel in the series “Corrido of the Proletarian Revolution,” which Rivera painted after returning to Mexico from his stay in the Soviet Union in 1927–28. The panels are united by the banner seen above the armed figures containing stanzas from a corrido, or popular ballad, by Martinez Alfredo Ramos titled, Asi sera la revolucion proletaria, Ballad of the Proletarian Revolution.
The photograph was once owned by Bruno Traven, author of Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927), who was an ardent communist and member of the same political circle as Modotti and Rivera. Traven wanted to make a film about the Mexican revolution based on Rivera’s frescoes and Modotti provided him with photographs for the project. Traven told his family that Modotti had colored several of the photographs, but there is no confirming evidence. The colors do, however, match those of the actual mural and may be contemporary with the print. (MET)