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Martín Chambi
Autorretrato de Martin Chambi vendo a si mesmo, Cuzco, Peru, 1923 @ Acervo Instituto Moreira Salles
Martín Chambi
Martín Chambi

Martín Chambi

Country: Peru
Birth: 1891 | Death: 1973

Martín Chambi Jiménez was a Peruvian photographer, originally from southern Peru. He was one of the first major Indigenous Latin American photographers. Recognized for the profound historic and ethnic documentary value of his photographs, he was a prolific portrait photographer in the towns and countryside of the Peruvian Andes. As well as being the leading portrait photographer in Cuzco, Chambi made many landscape photographs, which he sold mainly in the form of postcards, a format he pioneered in Peru. In 1979, New York's Museum of Modern Art held a Chambi retrospective, which later traveled to various locations and inspired other international expositions of his work.

Martín Chambi was born into a Quechua-speaking peasant family in one of the poorest regions of Peru, at the end of the nineteenth century. When his father went to work in a Carabaya Province gold mine on a small tributary of the River Inambari, Martin went along.

There he had his first contact with photography, learning the rudiments from the photographer of the Santo Domingo Mine near Coaza (owned by the Inca Mining Company of Bradford, Pa). This chance encounter planted the spark that made him seek to support himself as a professional photographer. With that idea in mind, he headed in 1908 to the city of Arequipa, where photography was more developed and where there were established photographers who had taken the time to develop individual photographic styles and impeccable technique.

Chambi initially served as an apprentice in the studio of Max T. Vargas, but after nine years set up his own studio in Sicuani in 1917, publishing his first postcards in November of that year. In 1923 he moved to Cuzco and opened a studio there, photographing both society figures and his Indigenous compatriots. During his career, Chambi also traveled the Andes extensively, photographing landscapes, Inca ruins, and local people.

Chambi began his work as a photographer as an apprentice to Max T. Vargas in Arequipa, Peru. During this time as an apprentice, Chambi learned different ways of manipulating light for portraits in the studio. His daughter, Julia Chambi, is quoted as saying, "my father was enchanted by light." His studio in Cuzco included a set of blinds and shutters made specifically so that he could alter the natural lighting to best suit his photographs. Furthermore, most of Chambi's photos of Indigenous people were taken outside so that he could use only natural lighting.

Chambi produced a variety of works over his career as a photographer. Within the studio, he took many portraits of both wealthy and elite members of society, as well as the Indigenous people; he also took many self-portraits. Chambi is well-known for his work in documenting the Indigenous culture, including Machu-Picchu and other ruins. In a magazine interview in 1936, he is quoted saying "in my archive I have more than two hundred photographs of diverse aspects of the Quechua culture." He took pictures of ruins and architecture, but also tried to capture the events of everyday life. With regard to Chambi's diverse work, Jorge Heredia once said, "He has been the photographer of whites who seek after his images, but also of Indians and Mestizos."

In addition to taking photographs for individual commissions or for his own personal interests, Chambi also used his photographs in other publications. One such publication was the use of his photographs in postcards. The other main use for his photographs was in a weekly Argentine newspaper called La Nación ("The Nation") where he contributed photographs of artists, writers, and any other assignments he was commissioned to do.

Chambi traveled to Chile to exhibit some of his artworks and used his artistic skills to allow the audience to understand how the photographer prioritized the Indigenous outcome that relates to the Peruvians and the Chileans. There were some arguments that the two countries disagreed with each other when involving the differences of race, indigeneity, and civilization. The photographer managed to redevelop the process through his artwork, letting the viewers and art critics to understand these types of political issues that concern the Chileans and the Peruvians.

The Peruvians were able to accept Indigenous people from various countries, but the Chileans did not accept them because of the 'pacification' campaigns of the late 19th century. The Mapuche leaders discuss educational benefits; however, they were dealing with some problems with governmental authorities that involves Chile and Peru. Chambi was determined to debunk racial stereotypes, but often up reinforcing them. El Sol, La Nacion, and other news critics prioritize the photographer's artwork because it would enable them to discuss national boundaries and open up ideological debate.

Eighty-eight images by Peruvian photographer Martin Chambi have been added to the archives of the famous Instituto Moreira Salles (IMS) in Brazil. It gives the public an opportunity to discover one of the first major, indigenous Latin American photographers. Face Andina features nearly 90 photographs and 23 postcards of studio portraits and the urban and rural landscapes of Cuzco, Arequipa and Puno.

Source: Wikipedia


 

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He had married the Indian-born Therese Blin de Grincourt a daughter of French aristocrats. Julia was from a family of celebrated beauties, and was considered an ugly duckling among her sisters. As her great-niece Virginia Woolf wrote in the 1926 introduction to the Hogarth Press collection of Cameron's photographs, "In the trio [of sisters] where...[one] was Beauty; and [one] Dash; Mrs. Cameron was undoubtedly Talent". Cameron's sister Virginia was the mother of the temperance leader Lady Henry Somerset. Cameron was educated in France, but returned to India, and in 1838 married Charles Hay Cameron, a jurist and member of the Law Commission stationed in Calcutta, who was twenty years her senior. In 1848, Charles Hay Cameron retired, and the family moved to London, England. Cameron's sister, Sarah Prinsep, had been living in London and hosted a salon at Little Holland House, the dower house of Holland House in Kensington, where famous artists and writers regularly visited. In 1860, Cameron visited the estate of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson on the Isle of Wight. Julia was taken with the location, and the Cameron family purchased a property on the island soon after. They called it Dimbola Lodge after the family's Ceylon estate. In 1863, when Cameron was 48 years old, her daughter gave her a camera as a present, thereby starting her career as a photographer. Within a year, Cameron became a member of the Photographic Societies of London and Scotland. In her photography, Cameron strove to capture beauty. She wrote, "I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied." The basic techniques of soft-focus "fancy portraits", which she later developed, were taught to her by David Wilkie Wynfield. She later wrote that "to my feeling about his beautiful photography I owed all my attempts and indeed consequently all my success". Lord Tennyson, her neighbour on the Isle of Wight, often brought friends to see the photographer. Cameron was sometimes obsessive about her new occupation, with subjects sitting for countless exposures in the blinding light as she laboriously coated, exposed, and processed each wet plate. The results were, in fact, unconventional in their intimacy and their particular visual habit of created blur through both long exposures, where the subject moved and by leaving the lens intentionally out of focus. This led some of her contemporaries to complain and even ridicule the work, but her friends and family were supportive, and she was one of the most prolific and advanced of amateurs in her time. Her enthusiasm for her craft meant that her children and others sometimes tired of her endless photographing, but it also means that we are left with some of the best of records of her children and of the many notable figures of the time who visited her. During her career, Cameron registered each of her photographs with the copyright office and kept detailed records. Her shrewd business sense is one reason that so many of her works survive today. Another reason that many of Cameron's portraits are significant is because they are often the only existing photograph of historical figures. Many paintings and drawings exist, but, at the time, photography was still a new and challenging medium for someone outside a typical portrait studio. The bulk of Cameron's photographs fit into two categories – closely framed portraits and illustrative allegories based on religious and literary works. In the allegorical works in particular, her artistic influence was clearly Pre-Raphaelite, with far-away looks and limp poses and soft lighting. Cameron's sister ran the artistic scene at Little Holland House, which gave her many famous subjects for her portraits. Some of her famous subjects include: Charles Darwin, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, John Everett Millais, William Michael Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Ellen Terry and George Frederic Watts. Most of these distinctive portraits are cropped closely around the subject's face and are in soft focus. Cameron was often friends with these Victorian celebrities, and tried to capture their personalities in her photos. Among Cameron's lesser-known images are those she took of Mary Emily ('May') Prinsep, wife of Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, the elder son of Alfred Tennyson and a British colonial administrator. Cameron's portraits of May Prinsep, taken on the Isle of Wight, show a somewhat plain woman shot head-on and without affect. Cameron's posed photographic illustrations represent the other half of her work. In these illustrations, she frequently photographed historical scenes or literary works, which often took the quality of oil paintings. However, she made no attempt in hiding the backgrounds. Cameron's friendship with Tennyson led to him asking her to photograph illustrations for his Idylls of the King. These photographs are designed to look like oil paintings from the same time period, including rich details like historical costumes and intricate draperies. Today, these posed works are sometimes dismissed by art critics. Nevertheless, Cameron saw these photographs as art, just like the oil paintings they imitated. In 1875, the Camerons moved back to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Julia continued to practice photography but complained in letters about the difficulties of getting chemicals and pure water to develop and print photographs. Also, in India, she did not have access to Little Holland House's artistic community. She also did not have a market to distribute her photographs as she had in England. Because of this, Cameron took fewer pictures in India. These pictures were of posed Indian people, paralleling the posed pictures that Cameron had taken of neighbours in England. Almost none of Cameron's work from India survives. Cameron caught a bad chill and died in Kalutara, Ceylon in 1879. Cameron's niece Julia Prinsep Stephen (née Jackson; 1846–1895) wrote the biography of Cameron, which appeared in the first edition of the Dictionary of National Biography, 1886. Julia Stephen was the mother of Virginia Woolf, who wrote a comic portrayal of the "Freshwater circle" in her only play Freshwater. Woolf edited, with Roger Fry, a collection of Cameron's photographs. However, it was not until 1948 that her photography became more widely known when Helmut Gernsheim wrote a book on her work. In 1977 Gernsheim noted that although a great photographer, Cameron had "left no mark" on the aesthetic history of photography because her work was not appreciated by her contemporaries and thus not imitated. But this situation was evidently already changing by then thanks to his popularisation of her work, for instance in 1975 Imogen Cunningham had commented "I'd like to see portrait photography go right back to Julia Margaret Cameron. I don't think there's anyone better." In 2013, Getty Images says in its caption of a portrait of Alice Liddell (whom Cameron photographed as Alethea, Pomona, Ceres, and St. Agnes in 1872) that "Cameron's photographic portraits are considered among the finest in the early history of photography". Source: Wikipedia
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