Louis Carlos Bernal: Retrospectiva

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El Gato, Canutillo, New Mexico
El Gato, Canutillo, New Mexico,  1979, Gift of Morrie Camhi, © Lisa Bernal Brethour and Katrina Ann Bernal, 
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10 a.m. Sept. 14, 2024 to 4:30 p.m. March 15, 2025

"My images convey the spiritual and cultural values of the Chicano experience." —Louis Carlos Bernal

The Center for Creative Photography presents Louis Carlos Bernal: Retrospectiva, a landmark survey of one of the most significant American photographers of the twentieth century.

Born in Douglas, Arizona, and based in Tucson, Louis Carlos Bernal (1941–1993) was a pioneering Chicano photographer, among the very first to envision his work in the medium not as documentation, but as an art form. He began his career in the early 1970s in the wake of the Chicano civil rights movement, articulating a quietly political approach to photography with the aim of heralding the strength, spiritual and cultural values, and profound family ties that marked the lives of Mexican Americans who were marginalized and little seen.

Initially focusing on the people of modest means he encountered in the barrios of Tucson, the city where he lived and taught, Bernal eventually traveled to small towns throughout the Southwest, where he portrayed individuals and families in outdoor settings or in their homes surrounded by belongings, tabletops filled with religious statuary and curios, and at times, rooms absent of people that nevertheless express the tenor of the lives lived within them. 

Featuring more than 140 original photographs and archival objects from the Center’s collection, the exhibition also includes examples of Bernal’s early experimental work, photographs from his trips to Mexico, the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and a selection of never-seen images he produced in Cuba. A companion book, Louis Carlos Bernal: Monografía, is co-published by Aperture and the Center for Creative Photography.

Louis Carlos Bernal: Retrospectiva is curated by Elizabeth Ferrer and organized by the Center for Creative Photography.

 Major support for the exhibition and its companion publication is provided by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.  




Corporate sponsorship is by Bank of America.