Friday, May 3, 2013

The Famous and the Common in the Photos of Leo Matiz

Leo Matiz, artist Fernando Botero and a Spanish writer acting Bohemian in Bogotá. 

Photographer of the wealthy, the humble and scenes of daily life, Leo Matiz was one of the leading documentary of Colombia, and perhaps the Americas, during the 1900s. His life and work embraced a great deal of Colombian history and Western culture.

He was born in 1917 in the town of Aracata (which would be immortalized by Gabriel Garcia Marquez), Matiz worked all over, but particularly in Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and the United States. His varied worked includes portraits of the famous, idealizations of the humble and abstract patterns. Notice how the portraits of Lucho Bermudez, Pablo Neruda, Walt Disney and other famous figures display their personality. But the portraits of proletariats such as the Mexican weaver and Quijote, the old Mexican fisherman and others are idealized individuals. Perhaps that's Matiz's leftist idealist streak.

During his long career, Matiz photographed for Life, Readers Digest and Colombian and Venezuelan magazines, as well as working on movies. In 1948 he came to Bogotá to cover the Panamerican Conference and was scheduled to meet with populist politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan and Fidel Castro the day that Gaitan was assassinated. Matiz was injured during the Bogotazo riots which followed.

In 1978, back in Bogotá, Matiz was mugged and lost one eye, causing him to give up photography for years.

In 1998, the Colombian government recognized Matiz as Colombia's premier photographer from the 20th century.

Matiz's work is on display in the Museo Nacional in Bogotá until May 19. Admission is free. 

A scene from the 1948 Bogotazo riots. 
In Caracas, Venezuela, a man and his hog celebrate the fall of dictator Perez Jimenez in 1958.
Colombian writer Leon de Greiff looking very intellectual. 

Colombian musician Lucho Bermudez.

Venezuelan fisherman, 1970.

A palm leaf pattern in Mexico. 

The Mexican Quijote. 

Colombian journalist Enrique Santos Montejo in 1971.

A Mexican weaver. 
Walt Disney in New York. 
Pablo Neruda, 1941.
Handling a zorrero in Bogota in 1970.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

mauricio forero l said...

Excellent Mike!!!
So bad, I'm not in Bogota, I love his work.