The Life of Gra­ciela Itur­bide

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews -

Is­abel Quin­tero, Zeke Peña Getty Pub­li­ca­tions (MARCH) Hard­cover $19.95 (96pp) 978-1-947440-00-5

Is­abel Quin­tero and Zeke Peña il­lu­mi­nate the ca­reer of a noted pho­tog­ra­pher in their bi­o­graph­i­cal graphic novel Pho­to­graphic: The Life of Gra­ciela Itur­bide.

Pub­lished by the J. Paul Getty Mu­seum in Los An­ge­les, Pho­to­graphic might her­ald a new op­por­tu­nity for graphic nov­els—place­ment in mu­seum gift shops. The use of a vis­ual sto­ry­telling medium to cap­ture the crit­i­cal in­flu­ences and events of a vis­ual artist’s life and ca­reer seems nat­u­ral and al­lows for a less time-con­sum­ing, but per­haps no less ef­fec­tive, in­tro­duc­tion than a tra­di­tional all-text bi­og­ra­phy.

Quin­tero uses a first-per­son nar­ra­tive, from the per­spec­tive of Itur­bide, dur­ing the book’s pic­to­rial sto­ry­telling, switch­ing to third per­son for oc­ca­sional text over­view pages that help di­vide the book into dif­fer­ent scenes or time pe­ri­ods. While Quin­tero’s writ­ing veers from the sur­real to the ob­jec­tive through­out the book, this seems the only way to fully cap­ture Itur­bide’s life and art si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Itur­bide was con­sulted dur­ing the cre­ation of the book, and Quin­tero skill­fully chan­nels the pho­tog­ra­pher’s dis­tinc­tive artis­tic sen­si­bil­ity into writ­ten form, aided by Peña’s il­lus­tra­tions.

The big­gest ques­tion in cre­at­ing a graphic novel about a pho­tog­ra­pher might be how to use the artist’s pho­to­graphs them­selves, if at all. It would have been in­ju­di­cious to pro­duce a bi­og­ra­phy with­out Itur­bide’s mem­o­rable pho­tos of a goat-slaugh­ter­ing rit­ual in Mex­ico or her stun­ning por­traits of Mex­i­can na­tives and land­scapes. Quin­tero and Peña strike a good com­pro­mise, fea­tur­ing many of Itur­bide’s pho­to­graphs as a com­ple­ment to the bi­og­ra­phy, but with­out be­ing de­pen­dent on them. The re­sult is a book that ex­pertly com­bines var­i­ous as­pects to be­come some­thing ut­terly unique.

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