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Lola Álvarez Bravo archive

Identifier: AG 154

Scope and Contents

The Lola Álvarez Bravo archive contains two series, personal papers and photographic materials, covering 1904-1994. The personal papers include biographical materials, correspondence, manuscripts, 19th century photographs purchased by Lola Álvarez Bravo, a portfolio, a ledger containing accounting information, clippings, catalogues, posters, announcements, and publications, as well as artifacts. Series two contains a wide array of negatives and contact prints listed below in the container list.


  • 1901-1994


Language of Materials

Material in English Spanish

Conditions Governing Access

All materials are open to research. To access materials from this collection, please contact The negatives have been isolated from the collection and are stored in cold storage.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to Lola Álvarez Bravo's work and writings is held by the Center for Creative Photography. Copyright credit should read: © 1995 University of Arizona Foundation, Center for Creative Photography.

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Biographical Note

Lola Álvarez Bravo was born Dolores Martínez de Anda in 1903 in Lagos de Moreno, a small city in Jalisco on Mexico's Pacific coast. She moved to Mexico City as a young child, after her mother left the family under mysterious circumstances. Her father died when she was a young teenager, and she was then sent to live with the family of her half brother. It was here that she met the young Manuel Álvarez Bravo, a neighbor. They married in 1925 and moved to Oaxaca where Manuel was an accountant for the federal government.

Manuel had taken up photography as an adolescent; he taught Lola and they took pictures together in Oaxaca. Manuel also taught Lola how to develop film and make prints in the darkroom. Lola became pregnant but before she gave birth, they returned to Mexico City, where their son, Manuelito, was born in 1927.

As he became more serious about pursuing a career in photography, she acted as his assistant, although she also harbored a desire to become a photographer in her own right. In 1934 Álvarez Bravo's marriage came to an end; the couple separated and were divorced 15 years later, although she decided to maintain the Álvarez Bravo name.

Álvarez Bravo taught as well as worked in a government archive to support herself, but she also continued to experiment with photography and in 1936 received her first real commission photographing the colonial choir stalls of a former church.

Inspired by such photographers as Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, Álvarez Bravo established a successful independent career. For 50 years, she photographed a wide variety of subjects, making documentary images of daily life in Mexico's villages and city streets and portraits of great leaders from various countries.

Álvarez Bravo's first one-woman exhibition was held at Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts in 1944; numerous solo and group shows followed. From 1951 through 1958, she directed her own Mexico City art gallery, La Galería de Arte Contemporáneo, where in 1953 Frida Kahlo had her only one-woman exhibition in her native country during her lifetime. In addition, Álvarez Bravo taught photography at the prestigious Academia de San Carlos in the Mexican capital. A major retrospective of her work was held in Mexico City in 1992, although the artist had stopped making new work three years earlier because of failing eyesight.


32 Linear Feet

65 Boxes

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Photographic materials (1920s-1989) of the Mexican photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo (1903 [sometimes birth date is recorded as 1907] -1993). Includes extensive files of negatives from throughout her career. A small amount of biographical materials, clippings, and publications (1901-1994) are included. The collection has been fully processed. A complete inventory is available.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Personal papers
  2. Series 2: Negatives

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection began as a gift of Lola Álvarez Bravo in 1994.

Related Materials

16 mm film footage made by Lola Álvarez Bravo of Frida Kahlo and Tina Misrachi Martin can be found at Filmoteca UNAM:

Processing Information

One hundred photographs were received as part of the archive. They were transferred to the fine print collection and included in the traveling exhibition, “Lola Álvarez Bravo: In Her Own Light” (1994). An issue of The Archive appeared at the same time under the same title with an essay by Olivier Debroise.

Preliminary processing completed in 1996. Contact prints organized during the spring and summer of 1997. Processing, re-housing, and description of negatives from boxes 5, 6, 7, and 11 completed by Alima Jimenez between August 2008 and May 2009.

Processing, re-housing, and description of negatives from boxes 8-10, and 12 completed by James Uhrig between September 2009 and December 2010. AG154:1-2, previously closed to research, were opened in January 2013, followed by a revised description by James Uhrig of AG154:1-4 in June 2013.

Finding aid updated by Meghan Jordan in June 2016, Alexis Peregoy in January 2018, and Tai Huesgen in July 2020.

Finding aid for the Lola Álvarez Bravo archive 1901-1994
Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
© 2020
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Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
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Finding aid encoded in English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States