Tina Modotti - Artist and Activist

Press release | Amsterdam, October 2023

Foam is delighted to announce a large overview and tribute to the work of the remarkable photographer Tina Modotti (1896-1942), an iconic figure in the world of photography, known for her unique blend of artistry and activism. She played an active role in the major political events of the 1920s and 1930s. Her portraits of iconic figures and artists like Diego Rivera or her partner Edward Weston provide a unique window into their world, while her depictions of Mexican peasants and laborers reflect her unwavering commitment to social causes.

Woman of Tehuantepec 1929 Tina Modotti

Woman of Tehuantepec (carrying jicalpextle), 1929

photo by Tina Modotti / Courtesy Throckmorton Fine Art, New York.

Canana sickle and guitar 1927 Tina Modotti

Canana, sickle and guitar, 1927

photo by Tina Modotti / Colección y Archivo de Fundación Televisa, Ciudad de México.

Indians carrying loads of corn husks for the making of “tamales’

Untitled, (Indians carrying loads of corn husks for the making of “tamales’) 1926-1929

photo by Tina Modotti / San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Donations from Art Supporting Foundation, John ≪ Launny ≫ Steffens, Sandra Lloyd, Shawn and Brook Byers, Mr. and Mrs. George F. Jewett, Jr., and anonymous donors.

Born in Italy, Modotti's journey led her to the epicenter of early 20th-century art and politics, from her early days as a silent film actress in Hollywood to her connections within the Mexican art movements where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera played a central role. With her camera, Modotti captured the sights and people of Mexico, focusing on women, folklore and religious art. Her raw photographic work firmly positions her as a central figure in the world of Modernist photography. However, Modotti's story extends far beyond artistic frameworks. Her connection to revolutionary ideals pushes her to the forefront of social change. After settling in Moscow and joining the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, she gave up photography altogether in 1931 to devote herself to politics. Modotti passed away in 1942 at the age of 45. For decades after her life her talent was overshadowed by mysteries and the absence of biographical information. It turned her life into a legend.

The exhibition brings together close to 250 vintage prints on loan from 12 important international institutions and various private lenders and collections including illustrated magazines and original works by photographers from Modotti’s close circle, such as Edward Weston.

Untold stories by unknown icons

The exhibition Tina Modotti is the third in a series where Foam provides a platform to untold stories by unseen icons. Similar to Ernest Cole and Ara Güler earlier this year, Foam chooses to view history from a different perspective by providing a platform to artists who were overlooked or forgotten within the existing history of photography. For most of her life and after, the work by Tina Modotti was overshadowed by the influential and renowned photographer Edward Weston, who had introduced her to the field of photography. More recent research has found that photography by Weston and Modotti has often been difficult to distinguish from one another, sometimes wrongly assigning the famous Weston to a photograph. With this exhibition Foam provides Tina Modotti a stage to acknowledge her as one of the most dedicated and outstanding artists of her time.

Tina Modotti – Artist and Activist can be seen from 17 November – 31 January 2024 at Foam. Open daily 10.00 - 18.00 hrs, Thurs/Fri 10.00 - 21.00 hrs.

Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+ 31 (0)20 5516500

Note to editors

For information and visual material please check or contact the Press Office of Foam on +31 (0)20 5516500 /

This exhibition is organized by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with Foam. Afterwards it will travel to Jeu de Paume in Paris where the exhibition can be visited from February 13th till June 11th 2024.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Blockbusterfonds.

Foam is supported by the VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and the city of Amsterdam.

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