Photograph of Mexican migrants brings to mind some famous paintings


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This photograph of a former migrant worker and his wife back home in Mexico was taken by Brett Gundlock for a story about visa disputes in the New York Times recently. Between the bowls of fruit and especially the textured blue wall behind the figures, it brought to mind several famous paintings, including some from Picasso’s Blue Period and other well-known masterpieces. Scroll down for more …

Brett Gundlock photograph of Mexican migrants workers
Photograph by Brett Gundlock for The New York Times

While none of the paintings I’ll show you below are a direct match to the photograph in composition or style, I’m making the comparison as a testament to Gundlock’s eye and the way that he set up this picture for a news article yet at the same time evoking art history (at least in my opinion). What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the full post.

Below left is “Harlequin and his Companion (Les deux saltimbanques),” 1901, by Pablo Picasso; below right is an etching also by Picasso titled “The Frugal Repast,” 1904. I think it’s the solemn mood in Gundlock’s photograph (as well as the placement of the figures at a table) that makes the connection to these works by Picasso.

two Picasso art works showing people at a table dining

Here’s another pair of paintings that come to mind. Below left is “The Card Players,” 1890–92, by Paul Cezanne. The slightly-hunched-over posture of the men with their hands on the table – as well as the textured blue background – connects this to Gundlock’s image. Below right is “Blue Still Life,” 1907, by Henri Matisse, and while there are no people in this painting, it’s the bowls of fruit and blue background that makes a connection for me.

Card Players by Cezanne and Blue Still Life by Matisse

This is not the first time I’ve seen news photographs in the New York Times that had strong artistic references in them – check out this post on Adam Dean, or this one on Sergey Ponomarev.

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