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Martin Parr, Titus Riedl
Retratos Pintados. The Collection of Titus Riedl
Number 5 of Parr/Nazraeli Edition of Ten
HC, 25,5 x 30,5 cm., o.pp.
Nazraeli 2010

"It?s easy to see why Martin Parr fell in love with historian Titus Riedl?s collection of hand-painted vernacular photographs from Brazil (Martin Parr wrote the introduction to Riedl?s recent book). From the late 19th century until the 1990s, retratos pintados (?painted portraits?) were common in rural northeastern Brazil: family portraits retouched to improve appearances. They were acts of transformation, and could make your family members appear rich, healthy, and beautiful, even the dead ones. Riedl explains below how the tradition has largely died out, and why it?s been replaced with screensaver motifs." (R. Baldwin)

Interview Titus Riedl - Rosecrans Baldwin:

About the "Retratos pintados" at the show: "Since the late 19th century through the 1990s, hand-painted photographic portraits were a common feature in homes in the rural areas of the northeastern Brazilian states. At a time when black-and-white photographs were not considered dramatic enough, the retratos pintados (?painted portraits?) glamorized and idealized their subjects. Black-and-white family photos were enlarged and painted, conferring status on members of the family and portraying them as icons or saints. Using oil washes and other techniques specific to the region, local artisans embellished clothing with pattern and color, smoothed wrinkles, added jewelry or resurrected deceased relatives, illustrating the fantasies and desires of their customers. Due to advances in technology over the past 25 years, hand-painted photographs have become a rarity in the region, and the tradition of analogue portrait-making is being lost. Most portraits are now computer-generated, eliminating the charm and distinctiveness of each artist?s individual style. The exhibition will include approximately 150 unique, vintage painted portraits ranging in size from 8? x 10? to 16? x 20?. The photographs were selected from those collected by Titus Riedl, a European who has lived in the region for 15 years. Fit into simple frames and hung together in clusters, the exhibition reflects the way family photos might be displayed in the home. "Retratos Pintados", a book of 61 four-color plates of photographs from the collection of Titus Riedl with an introduction by Martin Parr is the only documentation of a fading art form unique to the tradition ofvernacular photography." (

"I'm excited about a show opening in a few weeks at Yossi Milo titled "Retratos Pintados". It's an exhibit hand-painted Brazilian vernacular photographs from the collection of Titus Riedl. My grandparents in Mexico had photos like these around the house and I've always loved the form. The book is definitely high on my wishlist and the show is marked MUST NOT FORGET on my calendar." (Raul Gutierrez)


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