The goal of documentary photography is to show viewers something interesting about humanity. The subject is not just a collection of visual details; it is a story the photographer is waiting to tell. Lourdes Grobet accomplished all of this, and as a result, she captured and engaged her audience with her works.
Lourdes Grobet was born on July 25, 1940, and she spent her childhood living with her parents in Mexico City. She studied plastic arts at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and pursued a formal painting study at the Academy of San Carlos.
Moreover, she went on to study graphic design and photography in Britain at Derby College for Higher Education and Cardiff College of Art. In 1977, Grobet also completed a few studies for landscape paintings in England.
Lourdes Grobet was a Mexican professional photographer who worked near the end of what is usually called the Golden Age of photojournalism. She used large format cameras and color film to take portraits of people. She is well-known for making a series of photographs documenting lucha libre (a “freestyle wrestling” or literally translated as “free fight”), which is the term used in Latin America for professional wrestling and has significance in Mexican culture. Her works focused on the everyday life of people, especially those in marginalized communities. She captured her subjects, such as urban kids and lucha libre wrestlers, with honest portraits and gentle serenity.
Grobet’s work ranged from still photographs to video in both colored and black and white. Grobet’s fascination with her subject revealed itself through her excellent eye for detail, as she let the world of lucha libre come fully alive through her photographs. She is a photographer who truly understands her subject, which is evident in her work.
Her photographs of lucha libre are a testament to the saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ because as you first glance at it, all you think about is violence and not much else. The athletes’ faces and bodies are often tattooed and fractured or scarred, showing the toll their lives have taken. Her photographs restore dignity to these people, who are not just athletes but artists, with a deep respect for tradition.
Additionally, these photographs on lucha libre are a significant contribution not just to artists and writers, but also anthropologists who study this material. Her collections, where different genres coexist, are one of the few documentary registers that remain in Mexico. Her photographs have captivated and delighted many adults and children, becoming an essential part of Mexican popular culture.
This essentially sums up Grobet’s photography as a whole. While her main focus is on Mexican culture and people, her work is also highly unique and experimental in nature. She has a specific vision of her subjects, and those subjects are often ordinary people. A lucha libre wrestler, a parking lot attendant, a laundress, nothing is beneath Grobet’s lens.
In her lifetime, Grobet had over seventy individual exhibitions of her work all around the world. Her photography and art were known for their popular appeal in both Mexico and abroad. She was a prolific artist who produced a great amount of work in many media.
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