Art for December 28th: Portraying the nation

Retratando la nación” (1961) is a work of Mexican artist Jóse Chávez Morado (1909-2002).  A man is photographing (filming?) the mother (?) hiding her face with a child. What is the message?

Wikipedia tells: “Morado promoted the social and political principles of the Mexican Revolution. He believed that art should be esthetic and political and was both politically active as well as an artist. His work emphasized faith in the masses, the exaltation of the struggle and heroes of the Mexican Revolution, popular culture and the railroad. His painting tended to emphasize the human form, with depictions of rural areas in Mexico, customs, dances and folk religion.”


Faceless portraits are intriguing. A couple of recent photography examples: Kaisa Kauppila has used those in her Master of Arts thesis “My Second Life” photographs of recovering alcoholics. National Geographic published an online article about different ways to interpret ‘faceless’. And plenty of more pictures here.

Morado’s paintings were shown in Espoo Cultural Center, Finland during October this year, as part of an extensive roadshow of Mexican art and handicraft (see e.g. this and this) organized by the Embassy of Mexico in Finland.


“Retratando la nacion” by Jose Chavez Morado


About Olli Laasanen

Eyes and ears open. New and old. Jobs and hobbies. Pictures and music. Entertaining and serious. Change and stability. Nature and urban.
This entry was posted in Artsy, Mexico, Photo, photography, Valokuvaus, Yhteiskunta and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Art for December 28th: Portraying the nation

  1. I believe this is a depiction of a street photographer taking what is known as a “hidden mother” infant portrait. I am unsure of the rationale behind this type of photo. I do not understand why it was important to have a photo of a new baby apparently, entirely on its own. The cloaked mother was there to hold the baby in place, to stop it wriggling , or to hold it in an upright position when it was unable to do so on its own. There are people who collect antique photographs who specialise in this type of Victorian photography. I am sure there is an underlying political message here, but that would be for a specialist to interpret. I will find a link to some hidden mother portraits and get back to you.


    Once you do a search for this topic a lot of websites and blog posts come up. I thought this article was more based in reality than some others.

    • Thanks Katherine! Interesting and surely relevant background information.

      I’m sure Morado as a cultural (and political) activist was well aware of this late 19th century photography style. His painting clearly depicts that. There must be a explanation why he painted this in 1961. Maybe somebody can enlighten us about that …

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