Image above: © Christian Cravo, Untitled (Beach game), Bahia, 2004 / Courtesy of Throckmorton Gallery
Image Above: © Alexandra Bendek, From the Opening Reception
Throckmorton Fine Art presents TWENTY FIVE YEARS by Christian Cravo, the fifth exhibition at the gallery by the Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. Spencer Throckmorton is proud to have represented Christian Cravo for the past twenty years, saying that working with the third-generation artist is a unique privilege: “Christian grew up the son and grandson of legendary Brazilian artists, and has taken seriously the challenge to forge an identity of his own.”
Image above: © Christian Cravo, Untitled (Two young men on beach), Bahia, 2003 / Courtesy of Throckmorton Gallery
Christian Cravo was born in Brazil in 1974, the offspring of a unique union between the renowned Brazilian photographer from Bahia, Mário Cravo Neto (1947-2009) and Eva Christensen, from Denmark. Christian is also the grandson of the equally renowned sculptor, Mario Cravo Jr., so he is the scion of a world that favors the visual arts in Brazil’s most colorful city, Salvador.
When Cravo’s parents met, the distant and disparate worlds they came from fostered an amazing curiosity in their son, who in time used these geo-cultural touchstones to great artistic advantage.
Image above: © Christian Cravo, Resting, Bahia, Brazil, 1993 / Courtesy of Throckmorton Gallery
After early years in the tropical and artistic milieu of Bahia, Christian Cravo traveled to Denmark with his mother when he was seven. But the geographic distance made him long all the more to forge stronger ties with his father's side of the family. He started on that journey through the arts. At age 12, while still in Denmark, he began experimenting with photography, building a darkroom in his home. He spent most of his teenage years in the darkroom. When he was 17, he returned to Brazil, drawn by his own wanderlust and his father's encouragement. For two years, Christian traveled around the backlands of the Brazilian Northeast and discovered the beauty of the country for the first time. That immersion led him to view photography as the medium through which he could know the world and its people. At that moment, he decided he wanted to make that craft his profession.
Cravo returned to Denmark at 19 to serve in the Danish army and, experiencing the contrast of the bright white light of the Brazilian northeast with the opacity of Danish light, he felt a propelling force that became the foundation for his future career. Unlike most artists with dual citizenship, Christian Cravo did not fall prey to the recurrent syndrome of cultural identity, that is, he did not feel European in Brazil and Brazilian in Europe, nor did he experience a pendulum or sliding dynamic. On the contrary, he used that duality to his advantage to break down his own barriers, going beyond his geo-cultural boundaries. He wanted to explore humanity.
Over the course of nearly two and a half decades, Christian has produced a vast photographic record of India over ten visits, spent nine years in Haiti, photographed the Brazilian Northeast as a life project, and in the last ten years he has made regular visits to Africa.
Image above: © Christian Cravo, Untitled (Young man flying kite), Bahia, 2003 / Courtesy of Throckmorton Gallery
After working long and hard, he saw his work take shape and gain recognition, not only nationally but also outside of Brazil, through exhibitions at the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, the Billedhusets Galeri in Copenhagen, the S.F. Camera Works Gallery in San Francisco, the Ministry of Culture in Brasília, the Museu de Arte Sacra in Belém, and group exhibitions, including those at the Witkin Gallery, the Houston FotoFest, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and El Museo del Barrio in New York City.
Since 1996, Cravo has been represented by Throckmorton Fine Art, Spencer Throckmorton and his colleagues Kraige Block and Norberto Rivera have worked closely with Cravo to stage four impactful exhibitions and to promote books and catalogues of his work. During that period, Christian has also won awards from the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography, a scholarship from the Vitae Foundation and a prestigious fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation for his studies of the Brazilian Northeast. In 2007, Christian was nominated for the Paul Huf Award in the Netherlands, which selects the 100 most promising contemporary photographers, and in 2008 he received a nomination for the Prix Pictet (United Kingdom/Switzerland), the most important award for themes of sustainability in photography. He was the only South American photographer nominated.
Image above: © Christian Cravo, Untitled (Hand shake), Bahia, 2003 / Courtesy of Throckmorton Gallery
Christian Cravo’s first book, Irredentos, published in 2000, portrayed the life and faith of the Brazilian backlands. In 2005, Autrement published his second book in Paris, "Rome noire, ville métisse", a gorgeous collection of images of black culture in the state of Bahia. The Gardens of Eden was his third book, published in 2010. His latest editorial project "Enlightened Exú", is a retrospective book on the life and work of his grandfather, Mário Cravo Júnior, begun by his late father Mario Cravo Neto, who passed away on August 9, 2009. Currently, Christian is working on personal projects in Africa, though his Father's premature death has given Christian a new mission: the creation of the Mario Cravo Neto Institute to preserve his father's work and maintain his legacy. Now married and the father of three daughters, the artist is living in São Paulo, from where he travels the world.
Cravo's exhibition will be on view until February 27th 145 Est 57th Street, 3rd floor New York, NY, 10022