official press release
Vista de Peru – Photographs by Martin Chambi
Martin Chambi (1891 – 1973) was born near Coaza, a small Quechua Indian village to the north of Lake Titicaca in the high Andes, to a peasant family. He accompanied his father who went to work for a gold mine in the Carabaya Province. There he had his first contact with photography, learning the rudiments from the staff photographer of the mine. This chance encounter planted the spark that he might support himself one day as a professional photographer. With that idea in mind he set out for the city of Arequipa and became an apprentice and later assistant to photographer, Max T. Vargas. Nine years later he opened his own studio in the busy market town of Sicuani. In 1920 he moved to Cuzco and after a brief collaboration with Juan Manuel Figueroa Aznar, Chambi set up his studio in the Calle Marques. Over the next twenty years he traveled extensively throughout the region and became widely known within Peru as the only major indigenous photographer of his time. Writers, artists, journalists, and others made a point of visiting his house when in Cuzco. In 1950 a massive earthquake devastated Cuzco. Chambi’s health began to worsen during this period, which subsequently led to the decline of his photography output. Several exhibitions followed over the next few years. He died in his old studio on Calle Marques in Cuzco in 1973.
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