Tag Archive | "Juan di Sandro"

Top 5 Historic Argentine Photographers


As we develop this month’s theme of art and design, we wanted to take a look back at Argentina’s contributions to the art world over the past 100 years or so; specifically the world of photography.

The art of photography is (obviously) not only significant for the aesthetic values that an artist can create with an image, but also for the stories implicated by the scenes captured in a single frame. Photographers document snapshots of a dynamic world, a split second of a story that is hinted at but left for interpretation. The duality of photographs – the image they show and the message they hint at – is what makes them (and their creators) so compelling.

Argentina has been an international hotspot for photographers since the introduction of the daguerreotype to the Río de la Plata area in 1840. During the early years, Buenos Aires attracted European photographers who could be the first in the field to work in the city and explore the ‘exotic’ landscapes and subjects of the Argentine interior.

At first, local photography was limited to small privileged elite who could afford the finest technology of the era and learn from foreign experts who had brought the preliminary devices from France. However, as technologies and economies advanced and access to photographic tools opened up a bit at the end of the 19th century, Argentina raised some brilliant photographers of its own and continues to do so today.

There are far too many incredibly talented and historically important Argentine photographers to make a truly comprehensive list, but we’ve rounded up some of the best ones from the 20th century to introduce you to a few of the country’s finest. The photographers that made the list were chosen for their historical achievements in the field – their roles in constructing the panorama (if you will) of Argentine photographic history and stylistic movements.

Juan di Sandro (1898-1988)

First on our list is Juan di Sandro, considered the father of photojournalism in Argentina. Di Sandro worked for for La Nación for most of his career, collaborating with them until 1976.

Di Sandro broke away from the stuffy, fixed still frames common to the late 1800s and opened up his style to life and movement and metaphor. He is said to have pioneered Argentine field photography, dedicating his professional life to capturing current events.

The Italian-Argentine is best known for his aerial shots in which he captures city life from new angles. He often took photos from small planes to achieve this, and is regarded for his ability to control shot lighting from afar with exquisite precision.

During his early years, Di Sandro frequented art circles in Buenos Aires and was inspired by the delicate work of peers like Gustav Thorlichen, Hans Mann, and Eduardo Colombo.

His most emblematic photo is “Llegada de Plus Ultra,” (1926) which is said to represent Argentine national identity of the twenties.

Juan Di Sandro's Llegada del Plus Ultra, 1926

Juan Di Sandro’s Llegada del Plus Ultra, 1926

Di Sandro is also famous for his 1937 photos of major avenues in Buenos Aires, including Av. 9 de Julio and Av. De Mayo, as well as the era’s well-known store El Coloso– of course, all shot from above. His portrayal of these recognisable city spots in new and profound ways excited the public and continues to distinguish him as one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. His focus on political happenings would allow him to work successfully in the field for over forty years.

Di Sandro worked with a Speed Graphic camera that his European contemporaries used. He later moved to a Rolleiflex that produced 6x6cm negatives. He is set apart from many of his peers because he never worked with a 35mm film camera, a tool that dominated the field internationally after WWII. Instead, he kept an older, luminous style that distinguished him from many photojournalists who moved to advanced shutter speeds and film types.

He received an award from the president of La Nación for his work at the first Photojournalism Summit of the Buenos Aires Press Circle in 1942.

Horacio Coppola (1906-2012)

Horacio Coppola makes our Top 5 as one of the biggest names in Argentine photography since 1920. Coppola is known as the true “graphic representative” of the city of Buenos Aires in the 30s and 40s, and his work during this time is etched into porteño public memory.

Coppola grew up as part of an educated, upper class family and started taking photos at age 13. In 1930 he left Argentina to study photography in Europe, and was inspired by the movements of the time, acquiring a 35mm camera and drawing from the work of architect Le Corbusier, apparent in a series of urban life shots. After meeting his photographic companion and future wife Grete Stern at the Bauhaus school in Germany, the two moved to Buenos Aires in 1936.

He is known for capturing seemingly minor, often mysterious, details of the city and converting them into iconic images. For instance, Coppola has taken photos of Buenos Aires cafés, interactions of porteños on the city streets, and cultural elements like mate and asado. He captured emblematic scenes that represented the city of Buenos Aires and made the city recognisable throughout the world.

Av. Corrientes in Horacio Coppola's Buenos Aires by night series

Av. Corrientes in Horacio Coppola’s Buenos Aires by night series

Coppola is especially famous for his photos depicting night scenes that became symbols of the city. This set of photos is also characteristic of his meticulous style in which he set up technically perfect frames and habitually manipulated shot lighting for balanced composition.

Coppola later moved on to shoot lesser-known series of architectural shots and photos of figures and daily objects and eventually worked with colour film.

Coppola would eventually teach art and photography classes to young people in Argentina. His photos were shown at the Buenos Aires Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and in cultural centres throughout the Americas.

Annemarie Heinrich (1912-2005)

Annemarie Heinrich is next up on our historic photographers list because of her emblematic studio work photographing celebrities and public icons. Becoming the leading Argentine celebrity photographer at just 18 years old, she was known internationally as one of the best in her genre between the 40s and 60s. During the height of her career, Heinrich’s name was synonymous with “photographer of the stars” in Argentina.

Heinrich shot for popular celebrity magazines like Sintonía, La Revista Social, Mundo Radial, and Antena. Starting in 1935, she was responsible for photographing the cover shots for Radiolandia magazine every week for 40 years.

Evita photographed by Annemarie Heinrich in 1939

Evita photographed by Annemarie Heinrich in 1939

In 1947 Radiolandia printed one of Heinrich’s photos as the first Argentine magazine cover in colour. The shot features actress Zully Moreno and is one of Heinrich’s most recognisable pieces.

It is said that Heinrich truly understood the philosophy behind her job – namely, to capture images of iconic figures in a perfect manner that presented national celebrities and public figures flawlessly.

She fanatically studied illumination of studio interiors, implementing lighting techniques from film sets, theatres, and observing lighting methods used in international celebrity magazines.

Heinrich was born in Germany but soon moved to Buenos Aires with her family, where she became an Argentine citizen and learned about photography. Before she was 20 years old, Heinrich had opened a modest studio with the help of her father and began working with greats like Melitta Lang who helped her develop her distinctive style, seeking to photograph celebrities as true, god-like idols and became an expert in portraits and studio shots.

Until 1970, Heinrich was the Argentine photographer with most photos published outside the country and the most international prizes. Today her work is displayed in museums and cultural spaces throughout the world.

Before her death in 2005, Heinrich’s work was shown at a joint exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in the capital and was awarded the Leonardo Visual Arts Prize.

Adriana Lestido (1955-)

Next up is Adriana Lestido, a well-known contemporary photographer famous for her extended photo essays. Lestido, a Buenos Aires native who has worked for La Voz and La Nación, is known for her work’s social commentary. Her photos document the lives and stories of marginalised groups of the greater Argentine population, and she has won several awards for her series on women in society.

Lestido generally shoots black and white photographs in which the subjects are the focal point. Most often, Lestido’s photos are hints at lives and stories and the way she sees the world. She documents the some of the most profound experiences and struggles of humanity in her work, highlighting facial expressions and body language in contextualised environments.

In an interview corresponding with her work in the Argentine Rabobank collection Lestido explained her attraction to photography, saying, “For me this is photography: being able to capture a perception of reality and make it conscious”.

Madres e hijas, Adriana Lestido

Madres e hijas, Adriana Lestido

Lestido’s most famous shots are from her photo book on mothers and daughters, ‘Madres e hijas’, published in 2008, that documents striking moments lived by mothers and daughters together.

In 2009 Lestido was awarded the Grand Acquisition prize at the National Salon of Visual Arts. One year later the national legislature voted her one of the country’s Outstanding Figures and awarded her the Bicentennial Medal.

Since 1995 she has taught local photography classes, including a workshop in Ezeiza women’s prison no. 3 in 2007. Lestido’s work is currently on display all over the world and is on exhibit at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. She still works and lives in Buenos Aires.

Marcos López (1958-)

Our round-up ends with Marcos López, a high-impact photographer from the province of Santa Fe. López is famous for his loud, ironic style that he established in his preliminary portraits shot during the 1980s.

'El Jugador' by Marcos López

‘El Jugador’ by Marcos López

López’s flashy style has been compared to Andy Warhol and is characterised by pop-art influences, direct angles, and whimsical, staged scenes that have progressed over time. His current work uses symbolism to depict social critique and personal experiences, as seen in his quirky and outlandish series like Pop Latino and Sub Realismo Criollo.

Perhaps his most famous photograph is ‘Taxista en la Quiaca'(1997) although the style of the shot is much more subdued than his later pieces and work he shoots today.

In his early twenties López began teaching himself photography while studying engineering. He moved to Buenos Aires in 1982, where he further developed his interest in photography and met like-minded people in the capital city, integrating himself into circles of young artists and photographers like other great photographers had done before him.

In 1986 López left for Cuba to study at the International Film and Television School of San Antonio de los Banos. He won first prize from the Andy Goldstein foundation, and was allotted a grant for a black and white photo book, which he published in 1993.

López now lives in Buenos Aires, working as a photographer and producing independent videos. His work has been shown throughout the world, including shows in Spain, France, and Venezuela.

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