web RAM

711 N. Main Street
Rockford, IL 61103
p 815.968.2787

open daily | 10-5













Manuel Carrillo (Mexican, 1906-1989)

In post-revolutionary Mexico, Carrillo was interested in his fellow Mexicans and, in particular, the rural lower classes-street merchants, farmers, and women and children.  There is an aesthetic that publications such as National Geographic attempt; yet these photographs are more than an artistically conceived documentation of an indigenous people.  In these people, he saw a tribute to the universal human spirit.

Inspired by American Modernist photographers such as Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, and Paul Strand among others, there is no getting beyond the abstract elements that inhabit the subjects of Manuel Carrillo's photographs.  But where his American contemporaries would focus on these experimental elements to conceptually advance their art, Carrillo uses these elements to tie his human subjects to their surroundings in a timeless manner.  Traditionally, Mexicans have long felt a strong tie to their land and Carrillo is no different.

These photographs are personal and, yet, one step removed.  For while being Mexican, Carrillo did not belong to the social strata that he empathized with.  Born in Mexico City in 1906, he moved back and forth between Mexico and the United States throughout his life.  In 1922, he moved to New York, working various jobs including one on Wall Street.  He returned to Mexico in 1930, working for a pioneering tourist agency in Mexico before settling in to work as the Mexico City general manager of the Illinois Central Railroad Company until his retirement. 

His joining the Club Fotografico and the Photographic Society of America, at 49, launched his career as a photographer.  His ability to move back and forth across the border provided him with what could be considered an American aesthetic and still there is a personal quality that is lacking in much of American Modernist Photography.  It is this combination of the personal, the documentary and the abstract that seals his legacy.





Manuel Carrillo, Untitled (detail), n.d.

Manuel Carrillo, Untitled, n.d., gelatin silver print
Gift of Temmie and Arnold Gilbert
larger image

Manual Carrillo, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, 1958,
gelatin silver print, Gift of Temmie and Arnold Gilbert

larger image

Manuel Carrillo, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, 1960
gelatin silver print, Gift of Temmie and Arnold Gilbert
larger image




home | visit | exhibition | collection | education | support | museum store | calendar & events | contact


Collection | Exhibition | Education