Graciela Iturbide (1942 - )

Jardín botánico, Cactus Naturata. (1996-2004)
Botanical Garden, Cactus Naturata.

Silver gelatin photograph on paper
height: 27cm
width: 26.5cm

Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund and the PINTA Museums Acquisitions Programme 2011-2012


Iturbide took this photograph in the botanical gardens in Oaxaca, in the south of Mexico. The gardens form part of the Centro Cultural Santo Domingo, which is in a former sixteenth century convent. The gardens were designed by Francisco Toledo, one of Mexico’s leading artists, and are linked with art museums throughout the city of Oaxaca where Demián Flores, a younger generation artist in Mexican Migrations, lives and works. The state of Oaxaca has the greatest diversity of ethnic groups, indigenous languages, flora and fauna in Mexico and is known for its strong artistic community.

The image recalls the use of tents in photographs by Manuel Álvarez Bravo and further evokes the cactus fences seen in Mexico, including at Kahlo and Rivera’s other house in Mexico City, designed by Juan O’Gorman. Conceptually the cactus fence could be said to relate to the Cortina de Nopal (Prickly Pear Curtain), a manifesto written by José Luis Cuevas in 1956 and published in the cultural section of the daily newspaper Novedades. The manifesto challenged the dominance of nationalism in art, embodied by Mexican Muralism; a challenge that was maintained by the Grupo de la Ruptura (Breakaway Group) of which Cuevas was a prominent member.

(Display caption from the exhibition Mexican Migrations, 2013)

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