Manuel Carrillo

(1906 – 1990)

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Carrillo, with a forthright documentary style, focused his camera on the beauty of his culture, the markets and families that traverse the streets of Mexican village life, dogs that live as members of the population, and children at play. His often poignant and alluring pictures captured the beauty and love for his beloved country.

Manuel Carrillo was born in Mexico City in 1906.  Carrillo’s black-and-white photographs of people and his homeland reveal the warmth of his personality and his love for his subject matter. Imbued with humor and compassion, Carrillo’s photographs indelibly capture faces, moods, and a palpable sense of place and time. His images are compositionally strong and the emotions behind the pictures haunting.

In 1922, at the age of 16, Carrillo left Mexico for New York where he pursued several odd jobs before becoming an Arthur Murray waltz and tango champion. During this period in New York, he settled down to work for the Wall Street firm of Neuss Hesslein and Co., but in 1930 he returned to his beloved Mexico. There he began working for one of the pioneers of the Mexican tourist industry Albert L. Bravo. Carrillo later abandoned that position to become the general agent for the Illinois Central Railroad’s office in Mexico City, where he stayed for thirty-six years, until his retirement. At the age of 49, he joined the Club Fotografico de Mexico and the Photographic Society of America. His first international exhibition, titled, “Mi Pueblo” (“My People”), was held in 1960 at the Chicago Public Library and depicted daily life in rural Mexico. Since 1975, Carrillo’s work has been seen in 209 individual exhibitions and 27 groups exhibits in Mexico, the United States, and around the world. In 1980, the Photographic Society of America named Carrillo an honorary citizen of El Paso, TX where his photographic archive is held in the El Paso Public Library. His work has been published in a variety of photographic anthologies and journals. Carrillo died in Mexico City in 1989 at the age of 83.

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