Martín Chambi

1891 Coaza, Peru - 1973 Cuzco, Peru

The first indigenous photographer to portray his own people from a native’s perspective, Chambi captured the social changes during the Peruvian gold cycle, in the first decades of the twentieth century. His work is considered to be a pradigm of documental photography. He took up photography from Max T. Vargas, a famous photographer from Arequipa. In 1920, Chambi opened his studio in Cuzco and began photographing the bourgeoisie of the time. The first catalog of 14,000 of his glass plates was made in 1977, by Edward Ranney, American photographer and anthropologist, with the help of Victor and Julia Chambi, sons of Martín. The research culminated in a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) in 1979.