Graciela Iturbide was born in 1942 in Mexico City. In 1969 she enrolled at the age of 27 at the film school Centro de Estudios Cinematográficos at the Universidad Nacional Autónama de México to become a film director. However she was soon drawn to the art of still photography as practiced by the Mexican modernist master Manuel Alvarez Bravo who was teaching at the University. From 1970-71 she worked as Bravo’s assistant accompanying him on his various photographic journeys throughout Mexico.
In the early half of the 1970s, Iturbide traveled widely across Latin America in particular to Cuba and several trips to Panama.
In 1978 Iturbide was commissioned by the Ethnographic Archive of the National Indigenous Institute of Mexico to photograph Mexico’s indigenous population. Iturbide decided to document and record the way of life of the Seri Indians, a group of fisherman living a nomadic lifestyle in the Sonora desert in the north west of Mexico, along the border with Arizona, US.
In 1979 she was invited by the artist Francisco Toledo to photograph the Juchitán people who form part of the Zapotec culture native to Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Iturbide’s series that started in 1979 and runs through to 1988 resulted in the publication of her book Juchitán de las Mujeres in 1989.
Between 1980 and 2000, Iturbide was variously invited to work in Cuba, East Germany, India, Madagascar, Hungary, Paris and the US, producing a number of important bodies of work.
She has enjoyed solo exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou (1982), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1990), Philadelphia Museum of Art (1997), Paul Getty Museum (2007), MAPFRE Foudation, Madrid (2009), Photography Museum Winterthur (2009), and Barbican Art Gallery (2012), between others. Iturbide is the recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Foundation Award, 1987; the Grand Prize Mois de la Photo, Paris, 1988; a Guggenheim Fellowship for the project ‘Fiesta y Muerte’, 1988; the Hugo Erfurth Award, Leverkusen, Germany, 1989; the International Grand Prize, Hokkaido, Japan, 1990; the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie Award, Arles, 1991; the Hasselblad Award, 2008; the National Prize of Sciences and Arts in Mexico City in 2008; an Honorary Degree in photography from the Columbia College Chicago in 2008; and an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2009.
She continues to live and work in Mexico City. Currently she is preparing an exhibition of her new work at the Amparo Museum in Puebla, Mexico that will be in February 2013.