Leo Matiz

Born in Aracataca (Colombia), 1917.

Leo Matiz lived in Mexico from 1939 until the early 1950s. He collaborated with a variety of artists, including Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Gabriel Figueroa on Mexican film projects and David Alfaro Siqueiros on the mural “Cuauhtemoc against the Myth”.

Through his insightful and familiar closeness to Frida Kahlo, he created photographs that show her daily life -in her “Blue House”- as well as those photographic portraits that offer an important documentary contribution to the understanding of her painted self-portraits.

The Museum of Modern Art’s collection in New York acquired six photographs of Leo Matiz.

The gaze from within, penetrating through her own flayed body, is complemented by a dignified and grand photographic gaze from without, and makes her radiant in her vulnerability and severity.

Throughout his career, Matiz photographed many people of global significance, including María Félix, Luis Buñuel, Marc Chagall, Louis Armstrong, Álvaro Mutis, Pablo Neruda, Walt Disney, Enrique Santos Montejo “Calibán” y Lucho Bermúdez.

He photographed not only artists but also rural Mexicans in the 1940s, who sought out their livelihoods under the harshest conditions. Through his photographs, Leo Matiz endowed marginalized indigenous populations with dignity and strength, and showed them in their despairing union with their land. These photographs summon a power, fed from the force of lived experience, that would later be seen in its full desperate hopelessness in Luis Buñuel’s film “Los Olvidados”. A matter-of-fact, unsentimental view of existence is shared by Buñuel’s friends, his cameraman Gabriel Figueroa and Leo Matiz.

Leo Matiz died in Bogota’, on October 24th in 1998. His images and artistic legacy are conserved and promoted by the Foundation Leo Matiz as an intense and suggestive breviary of the 20th century, which Matiz was able to communicate with beauty and expressive force.


2016 Frida Kahlo. Fotografias de Leo Matiz en la Casa Azul. La Térmica, Málaga. Spain. (Curators: Angustias Freijo y Mario Martín) —– Link catalog
         FRIDA KAHLO. FOTOGRAFÍAS DE LEO MATIZ EN LA CASA AZUL. Sala de las Francesas, Valladolid. Spain.
         FRIDA KAHLO. FOTOGRAFÍAS DE LEO MATIZ EN LA CASA AZUL.Instituto de México, Madrid, Spain. 

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