Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Fine Arts

Committee Chair

Kloner, Jay Martin, 1938-

Author's Keywords

Edward Weston


Modotti, Tina, 1896-1942; Women photographers--Biography


This thesis is an examination of the transformation Tina Modotti's photography underwent because of the "Idols Behind Altars" project which she completed on an expedition with Edward Weston in 1926. The thesis begins with an introduction to Modotti's photography from 1923-1926, pre-expedition, exploring the conditions of the "Idols Behind Altars" trip, the issue of attribution of the "Idols Behind Altars" images, and Modotti's development of "indigenismo" as a life philosophy. The thesis uses art historical analysis based on research directed at a comparison of images to argue that the trip was the catalyst for Modotti's photographic transformation in late 1926. The thesis is divided into three chapters. Chapter I covers her early work, photographic tendencies, and influences on her work. Chapter II explores the "Idols Behind Altars" assignment, the political and geographical conditions under which she and Weston traveled, and the issue of attribution of the "Idols Behind Altars" photographs as discussed by various Modotti and Weston scholars. Chapter III compares the "Idols Behind Altars" images to Modotti's subsequent work (1926-29), and Modotti's continued involvement in revolutionary politics in Mexico as it related to her photography.