Pedro Luis Raota
Pedro Luis Raota was one of the 20th century's most important photographers. Since his first recognition in 1958, he garnered over 150 international awards and honors for his exceptional work in the humanitarian genre. His photographs have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and are included in public and private collections around the world.
Raota's unique and memorable talent for capturing the depth of human spirit in his photographs has brought him comparisons to other legendary photographers. Like Dorothea Lange or W. Eugene Smith, this Argentinian master presents haunting portraits of a stricken humanity. Other photographs are filled with joy or comical confrontations, spontaneous "decisive moments" akin to Cartier-Bresson or Robert Doisneau. There is a rare focused intensity of spirit in nearly all Raota's portraits, which has been compared to the work of Paul Strand. In the final analysis however, these extraordinary images step beyond comparisons to other photographers and stand apart as powerful masterpieces, unique and singularly moving.
This is a personal collection of work that comes from the heart of a Latin tradition stretching back through Goya to Ribera, and forward to contemporary Spainish cinema. Emotion is conveyed through an isolated face; gestures of people pictured together bind them into interdependent relationships; suffering is contained in dignity. Raota's artistry ranges from the sweetness of young innocence to raw realism. His compositions are as classical as the lighting is dramatic, yet without artifice. Each photograph becomes a direct, spontaneous glimpse into the life of his subject. The image lingers in our memory long after viewing. This unusal body of work adds a quality of personal feeling to the contemporary world of photography.
Raota has been called "one of the ten best photographers in the world" for the significant number of distinguished honors and awards he received from juries on five continents. Raota's images possess an unmistakable and distinctive style forged from a spirit of infinite tenderness, raw realism and deep humanity. His visual trademark - light highlights against a dark background - are recognizable at first glance and leave a powerful signature across virtually all his work. Today he stands apart from the rest of the world's renowned documentary photographers for the brilliant clarity of his darkroom craft as well as the engaging humanity and sophistication of his compositions. To the end of his life, Raota painstakingly made each print individually by his own hand.
Pedro Raota was born in Argentina on April 26, 1934 in a modest country home in the Province of El Chaco. At a young age he sold his bicycle to buy a camera, determined to learn the art of photography. He quickly took up portrait photography in Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz and later moved to Villaguary where he enthusiastically set up his own studio.
In 1966, he won First Place from Spanish World magazine, which he regarded as his first major award. In 1967, he won a competition held during the Cannes Film Festival, placing second out of 2,500 photographers from around the world. Greatly encouraged, from 1968 on, his awards began to rapidly multiply, including The Condor Trophy from the Argentine Federation of Photography in Buenos Aires and The Best Graphic Photographer in the World, given at La Haya, Holland. He was invited as a Guest of Honor to South Africa, Holland, Venezuela and Spain. In 1972, he received the First Place at the London International Exhibition of Photographic Art. In 1972, he won the Charles Pompidou in Paris, France and the Charles Kingsley trophy in the World Photographic Contest in 1972 and 1976. In 1975, Raota received the Golden Medal at the International Exhibition of Photographic Journalism in the United States, and more importantly, the Pracda 75 in Moscow. This final award gave him the opportunity to spend 45 days photographing in 28 different countries. The resulting work was exhibited at the Modern Art Museum in Buenos Aires eventually his images were shown around the world in countless international group exhibitions, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1975, he won the World Biennial EUROPA-75.
Two books of Raota's photography were published in Switzerland. The first, in 1977, was printed in five languages. He printed his first portfolio in 1979. The National Library in Paris has 60 of his photographs in their gallery. His work is included in the Hall of Fame by the Photographic Society of America. In 1981, Raota founded the Buenos Aires Institute of Photographic Art and oversaw the faculty until his death at the age of 52.
In his native country Raota was already revered as the "Ansel Adams of Argentina" at the time of his death. Today Raota's original signed prints are extemely rare; each one hand printed by himself on Clorobromide paper.