Lourdes Grobet was born on July 25, 1940 in Mexico City, Mexico, and is well known for her photographs of Lucha Libre Wrestlers. Grobet spent some time as a painter and when she found the medium was not as valuable as photography at the time, she decided to start a new path.
Grobet wanted her work to contribute to history, so she started on a path bring about social relevance in her photography. Her photography led her to exploring the Lucha Libre, like she had wanted to as a child. She spent a lot of time getting to know the luchadores. Grobet has done some theatre and video, and has published a few works such as: Lourdes Grobet, an autobiography, and Lucha Libre: Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling, Lourdes Grobet: Lucha Libre (2005), Espectacular de Lucha Libre (2008), Lucha libre mexicana (2008). Grobet has had quite a lot of exhibitions, and has received grants and awards for her work.
Lourdes Grobet grew up in Mexico City with her parents. She was not openly encouraged to do art by her family, however they were very sociable people. When she was young she was interested in wrestling, though not allowed to see any matches, her father believed it was not the type of thing a woman should watch.
Grobet was introduced to dance and from this her interest in art began. She was interested in the harmony that came with it that complimented her gymnastics. She had been in dance for five years, and had started with Gloria Contreras as her teacher. After being there for five years she was forced to stop any sort of exercise for quite a long time, because she became ill and had a bad case of Hepatitis.
Once Grobet was back on her feet she took a formal painting class at the Academy of San Carlos. Her parents did not like the views of the school and sent her to work under a Catholic professor named José Suárez Olvera, who painted murals for the Church of San Francisco. She did not care for his work much because she felt it lacked originality. Grobet asked herself what art is, “Looking around, and after asking myself the inevitable questions about what art is, it became clear that for me it was a language, a way of saying things, and so I had to find the best way of saying them.”
Lourdes Grobet studied plastic arts at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and graphic design and photography in the United Kingdom at Cardiff College of Art and Derby College for Higher Education. She was very moved by her professor Mathias Goeritz, from whom she learned that mass media showed a new way of expression. When Goeritz gave up teaching, he asked Grobet to be his assistant while he worked on stained glassed windows for the Mexico City Cathedral. She accepted and he became one of her favorite mentors. She studied in England in 1977 and had done a bit of landscape paintings. She ended up failing, however, because the photography faculty did not like that she altered the landscape and strayed away from keeping it purely documentary.
Katy Horna introduced Grobet to the world of photography, though her main influences in her early career were Mathias Goeritz, Gilberto, and El Santo.
Grobet studied as a painter in Mexico for some time and then took a trip to Paris in 1968, it changed her life and the way that she viewed the art world.
While she was in Paris she visited a lot of art galleries Visiting the Galleries she discovered Kinetic Art and because of this she likes to work with Multi-Media. She spent some time working with a Jazz concert controlling lighting and projections that would change according to the music. When Grobet returned to Mexico, she decided that she wanted to focus on photography, after she got back home she decided to burn all of her old work and start over.
In 1981 Grobet released her first set of photographs. At the beginning of her career in photography she was part of a group called Club Fotográfico, formed by Pedro Meyer in 1977. With her participation in this group, she was able to revitalize photography in Mexico, which lead to a movement called the Grupos. Grobet was focused on establishing a community-based perspective.
Grobet spent some time with Indigenous people and during this time it was one of great struggle for them. She took the time to learn more about them and photograph them in a theatrical way. She wanted to relate to Indigenous people using her artistic initiative, so they had made costumes and scenery of their own and she then took their photos. Later on Grobet took interest in the Mayan Culture. Wanting to learn more about the Mayans she went to the suburbs, this was a less common action, but she wanted to steer clear of any tourists. She wanted to get accurate information and explore an area less traveled. She discovered temples that were made by an unknown civilization and she decided they were to be called the Olmayazetec.
After her education and her travels, she came back to Mexico. She once again started to explore her childhood interest of luchadores. She found that there was very little information pertaining to the luchadores and so she decided that she wanted to make them more known to the world.
Grobet spent thirty years devoted to taking pictures of the luchadores and studying their way of life. She spent time photographing Lucha Libre wrestlers inside and outside of the ring. She decided that she wanted to take photographs not only of them in their masks, but also in the comfort of their own homes. Grobet wanted to show that they lived normal lives, just like everyone else. She got very close with well known Lucha Libre wrestlers such as: El Santo, Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras, Sagrada, Octagon, Misioneros de la Muerte, Los Perros del Mal, and Los Brazos. Much influenced by Mathias Goeritz, the Polish sculptor from Gdańsk (Poland) and by Arceves Navarro, a Mexican master of art murals, who were her teachers, Lourdes Grobet worked on pictures of El Santo, one of the most important Mexican wrestlers, and a hero of Lucha libre who starred in more than 50 films. Since 1975, she has published more than 11,000 photographs of the sport, including those on the sport in the United States since the 1930s, and as an important part of Mexican popular culture, adopting a sociological attitude. The sport involves many costumes and masks, leading it to a sport-carnival air which is much appreciated by Mexicans.
Grobet has had over one hundred exhibitions of her photographs, both group and solo exhibitions. She had her work exhibited in the London Mexfest festival in 2012. She won an award at the Second Biennal in Fine art photography. In 1975, for the exhibition Hora y media, she transformed a gallery into a photographic laboratory. She developed the photographs, but without fixing them, and displayed them on three walls. While the public looked at the photographs, the lights from the gallery meant that they disappeared.
In 1977, she presented Travelling, an exhibition of photography on an escalator.
Among other works, she took: Paisajes pintados, Teatro campesino, Strip Tease.
Grobet was originally married to a man named Xavier Perez Barba and they later divorced. She had a lifelong dream of parachute diving and Xavier did not care much for this dangerous idea, this however was only one of their disagreements. She also had a dream of becoming an astronaut and had applied to go on the Morelos Satellite, but was not one of the few chosen.
Grobet went on to study in England at Cardiff College of Art and Derby College for Higher Education. Towards the end of her time there she met Marcos Kurtycz and fell in love with him. They kept in touch for two years after she returned home to Mexico.
In Mexico she met Felipe Ehrenberg; with whom she shared her work and he helped her bring her work to fruition.
As Grobet is making her photographs, she desires to understand reality better. According to Grobet, “She has used this photographic experience as an inductive process in order to understand or "live" reality (or realities) rather than illustrate certain preconceived ideas. She is not scared to employ different (sometimes contradictory) languages available to her to speak of her particular experience and standpoint, thus sacrificing formal purism. In her own way, Grobet manages to use photography to relate to herself, to relate to us and to take action in the problematic reality that is Mexico.”
She works to keep her own thoughts and feelings out of her work and her photographs include culture, social, political, and identity. When Grobet is working, she is not afraid of her failures and believes that they are just as important as her successes. Grobet strives to show images that show energy and vitality, free from singular identities and the importance of them to Mexican culture. Grobet’s work is about the community and she wants to show people something valuable.
Grobet likes to work with others; she enjoys collaborating with others and was later involved in the Mexican Photography Council. Some of the work that she does is collaborative, while others, she likes to do on her own time. When photographing the luchadores she wants to show their tough side, but she also wants to show the fragile side as well. Grobet wants to uncover the roots of the Lucha Libre. She wants to show that the Lucha Libre are important to the culture of Mexico and that they are meant to be related back to the time of the Aztecs. Grobet found that there was not much information found about these fascinating Luchadores. She wants the luchadores to get the recognition they deserve as Mexico’s important cultural figure.
FONCA grant. Mexico 2010 – 11 Mexico
Macdowell Residency U.S.A. 2007 EU
FONCA grant. 2005-2006
Bellagio Residency, Italy. 2003
MacDowell Residency U.S.A. 2002
Yaddo, Residency U.S.A., 2001
Grant, Sistema Nacional de Creadores, Mexican Cultural Institute, Mexico, 1999-2001.
Banff Centre for the Arts, Residency Canada, 1996.
Grant, Sistema Nacional de Creadores, Mexican Cultural Institute, Mexico, 1995-1998.
International Award, Latin American Emancipation and Identity 1492-1992, contest, Quito Ecuador 1992.
Best Monument Award for commemoration of XX Anniversary of Tlatelolco massacre,
with the group Proceso Pentagono, Mexico 1988
Best Book Award, Juan Pablos Editions, Mexico, 1988
Award “Libro Propositivo”, Mexico, 1984
Photographic Biennal award, Mexico 1982
1983 "Se escoge el tiempo"/ Los Talleres, Mexico City. 1984 "Luciérnagas"/ E.N.A.P. Mexico City
1987 "Bodas de Sangre"/ Tabasco County Government
2004 "Lourdes Grobet"/. Turner Editions, Spain.
2005 "Espectacular de Lucha Libre"/. Trilce Editions, Mexico City
2007 "Retratos de Familia"/ Reverté Editores, Mexico-Spain
Gorbet Lordes. Gorbet Lordes. Madrit: Turner, Edition: 1. Ed., 2005.
Lucha Libre: Masked Superstars of Mexican Wrestling
2013 "Wrestling" Méxican consulate Miami USA.
2012 "The New Man of Bering"/ NegPos gallery, France
2010 "Equilibrium & Resistance" Gallery UAM Mexico city.
2010 "Espectacular de Lucha Libre"/National Museum of Art, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
2009 "Equilibrium & Resistance/Museo Archivo de la Fotografía, Mexico city.
2008 "La Mano Negra" / IMSS. México
2008 "Upside Down Les Artiques"/ Musée du Quai Branly, Paris France
2007 " Lucha libre" / Foto España. Madrid España
2006 "Lucha libre" / three subway stations. México D.F.
2005 "Lourdes Grobet retrospecticve"/, Silverstein Photography. NY. USA
2005 "Black Party" / New York, USA
2005 "Painted Landscapes"/, Alicante University, Spain.
2000 "Lucha Libre" / Centro Cultural Tijuana, Tijuana Mexico
2000 "Prometheus Unisex installation / Ex-Teresa, Mexico city
1988 "Manteles de Septiembre" / Café la Gloria, Mexico city
1997 "Tres Caidas / Centro Alvarez Bravo, Oaxaca, Mexico
1996 "Pop, Mass and Sub-culture / web page, Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada
1996 "La Filomena" / Centro de la Imagen, Mexico city
1995 "The Mask in Mexican Culture / Erfurt, Germany
1992 "Which Conquest are we Talking About?"/ Mexico city and Quito Ecuador
1990 "Neo-Olmayaztec"/, Gilardi gallery, Mexico city.
1985 "53 Blocks" / Museum el Chopo Mexico city
1980 82-85-91 / "Lucha Libre"/, Mexico city-Chicago-Havana-Amsterdam
1977-1991 "Painted Landscapes" / Derby, Great Britain-Mexico city
1977 "Travelling Exhibition" / Derby, Great Britain
1975 "Hour and a Half"/ Casa del Lago, Mexico city
1974 "To the Table" / Casa del Lago Mexico city
1970 "Serendipiti" / Misrachi gallery, Mexico city
2013 ""Painted Landscapes"/ Photographic Biennial Bogotá Colombia
2012 "London MexFest"/ Rich Mix, London Great Britain.
2012 "Photography in Mexico" / SFMOMA., USA.
2012 "Women behind the camera"/ Arosena Museum, Coahuila Mexico
2012 3 Color" (Mexican photography) Hungary
2011 "3 Color" (Mexican photography) Turkey.
2011 "Ethics and Obscenity"/ Quiñonera gallery Mexico city.
2011 "Women behind the camera"/ Tijuana Mexico.
2011 "Mexican worlds"/ Inst. Mexico Spain.
2011 "Neomexicanismos"/ Museum of Modern Art Mexico city
2008 "Mexican Women Artist, XX Century"/ Monterrey Mexico.
2007 International Photo Festival, Pingyao China.
2007 "The End is Nigh" / Higher Pictures, New York, USA
2007 "La Era de la Discrepancia"/, University Museum. México
2007 "Cocei". Centro Alvarez Bravo, Oaxaca México
2005 "Estrategia que Muta"/, Xanon Gallery Madrid Spain.
2003 "Aparentemente Sublime"/ Bancomer Salon. Mexico City
2003 "Lucha Libre"/ . Centro Historico Festival Mexico City
2002 "Color Surfaces"/. Berlín Germany
2002 "ABCDF"/ Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico city.
2001 "Urban Pornography"/, New York, U.S.A.
2001 "Zoología sobre Gelatina"/, several cities of México
2001 "Con Ojeras de Mujer"/, México, Cuba, España.
1999-2000 "Visual Voices of Mexico" / Long Beach Ca.,Washington D.C., Tijuana Mexico
1998 "Fotonovela" / Camerawork, San Francisco Ca. USA.
1997-99 "Cofradía de Luz" / several cities of Mexico
1996 "Vision/Revision" / Evenston Ill. USA
1996 "Con Ojos de Mujer" / Beijing, China
1994 "A Shadow Born of Earth" / San Diego Ca., Oklahoma and other cities of the US.
1994-1981 Work showed at I-II-III-IV- V Havana Biennal, Havana Cuba
1993 "Europalia" / Brussels, Belgium
1992-1993 Work showed / at 53th and 54th International Salons, Tokio, Japan
1991 Participation / at Tenerife International Biennal Canarias, Spain
1990 "Stapling the Frontier" / across the 3000 km. Mexico US border
1990 "Compañeras de México" / Riverside Ca. and other cities of the US.
1987 "Mexican Women Photographers" / New York, USA
1979-1981 Participation / Coloquio mexicano de Fotografía, Mexico city
1979 "Mexican Photography" / Sweden, Germany, France and other European countries
2013 "Equilibrium & Resistance, bering Strait. documentary
2012 "The New man of Bering" NegPos gallery, Nîmes France.
2011 "Hear the silence"/ work of sculptor Helen Escobedo. México.
2010 "On Human Scale"/ work of sculptor Helen Escobedo. México.
2009-10 "Interactiv, Images of BeringStrait" / MAF. México
2008-09 Frontier/ Musée du Quai Branly, Paris France. Museo Archivo de la Fotografia
2008-09 Fluxus/ Musée du Quai Branly, Paris France. Museo Archivo de la Fotografia
2006 "Lobulos on Line"/ Mexico city
2005 "Grobet Witch Project"/. Alicante University Spain.
2003 "As-Is"/, Museum of Modern Art, Mexico city.
2002 "Prometheus Unisex"36th New York Expo. Film and video. New York. USA
2001 "Prometheus Unisex" / Video Biennal Brazil
2000 "Prometheus Unisex" / ExTeresa Arte Actual, Mexico city
2000-1995, videos for Teatro Campesino e Indigena, theatre group, Mexico
1996 "Luz y Fer " / Centro de la Imagen, México city
1992 "Lucha Libre" / interview for French Television
1990 "Lucha Libre"/ film for BBC London Great Britain
1986-2001, photographs for Teatro Campesino e Indígena, theatre group, Mexico
1983-84 "De Mugir a Mujer / performance, Casa del Lago, Mexico city
1978-1992 Theatre collaborations with Susana Alexander.Se escoge el tiempo (We choose the time), (1983)
Luciernagas (Lucioles) (1984)
Bodas de Sangre (Drops of blood) (1987)
Santo y Seña de los Recintos Históricos de la Universidad de México, Éd. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1996) ISBN 968-36-4630-1
Lourdes Grobet, Turner, (2004). ISBN 84-7506-620-8
Lourdes Grobet: Lucha Libre, Editorial Trilce (2005) ISBN 1-933045-05-1
Espectacular de Lucha Libre, Editorial Trilce (2008) ISBN 968-9044-16-8
Lucha libre mexicana, Editorial Trilce (2008) ISBN 968-9044-17-6