Mariana Yampolsky (1925-2002)
Mariana Yampolsky is one of Mexico’s most influential and talented photographers. She was the daughter of a Russian Jewish couple who emigrated to the United States to escape anti-Semitic persecutions. Mariana received several intellectual stimuli from her father, a sculptor and painter, and her grandfather Franz Boas, considered to be the father of anthropology in the United States. She settled in Mexico to pursue her passion for art and became a Mexican citizen in 1958.
‘I’ve never been interested in expressing my own ego.. on the contrary, I was interested in reflecting a moment in the lives of people that others perhaps don’t see or don’t value.’ Accordingly, Mariana’s work focuses on photographing the everyday life of common people in the rural Mexico. ‘Caress’ is one of her most famous pictures, portraying a young mother holding her daughter tight in her arms, as she gently caresses the child’s head. The wind is moving the mother’s long, wavy hair and her eyes stay closed, allowing her apparent affection to manifest, becoming the epitome of motherly love.
On the other hand, Mariana’s art is versatile and multifaceted. Drawing inspiration from Mexico’s unique folklore, many of her photographs can appear macabre and uncanny to the spectator (see ‘Osario’ and ‘La novia fantasma’).
Mariana’s brilliance was to capture the essence of Mexico by dignifying agrarian work, praising the indigenous flora and people of the land and, last but not least, focusing on significant themes such as death, poverty and disease.
By Maria D’Aniello