Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Remembering Lourdes Grobet Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

28 July 2022

Mexican photographer Lourdes Grobet, who documented the wrestlers of lucha libre in a career that also included painting, video, installation and performance, died on July 15 after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 81.

Born in Mexico City, her father was a plumber who had participated as a cyclist in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Her mother was a homemaker.

As a young girl, her father prohibited her from attended lucha libre matches in person. "He didn't want us to become friends with the 'bums' in the ring or in the audience," she recalled in an interview.

She became a gymnast and then a dancer, studying classical dance for five years, but contracted hepatitis, becoming bedridden. On her recovery she started taking painting classes, eventually studying with the painter and sculptor Mathias Goeritz and the surrealist photographer Kati Horna at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in visual arts in 1960.

When Goeritz retired from teaching, he asked her to be his assistant while he worked on stained glassed windows for the Mexico City Cathedral.

She had been introduced to photography by Horna. But it wasn't until she was studying in Paris in the late 1960s that she became interested in it as "something in between abstraction, figuration and expressionism." Her early images were of landscapes, some of whose elements she had painted with vivid house paint.

She photographed luchadores for thirty years but not as a sports photographer. Instead, she approached them as cultural entities with links to Aztec and Mayan cultures while representing strength and empowerment in Mexico.

Rather than only capturing them in the ring, she followed them home and to their day jobs but almost always photographing them in their colorful masks. In fact, she never saw the faces of either El Santa or the Blue Demon, two of her favorites.

She published a book of some of those thousands of luchadores portraits in Lucha Libre: Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling (2005).

In the mid-1980s she began a thirty year project to photographing the Laboratorio Teatro Campesino e Indígena, a rural Mexican regional theater troupe. Like the luchadores, she was attracted to them as "cultural paradigms."

In 2021 she directed a documentary film on the Bering Strait, Equilibrio y Resistencia, which explores the issues of migration, colonization and borders.

In 2005, when the Bruce Silverstein Gallery in Manhattan held a career retrospective after many solo exhibitions around the world. Her works are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Musée Du Quai Branly in Paris, Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City and the Helmut Gershaim Collection at the University of Texas, Austin, among other institutions.

In 1962 she married Xavier Perez Barba, who she divorced in 1974, after they had four children together. She is survived by her two sons and two daughters, a sister, a brother and six grandchildren.

BackBack to Photo Corners