Lourdes Grobet, a Swiss-Mexican artist with a long photographic career spanning decades, has died aged 81. She began her most famous work in the 1980s when she began photographing luchadores. She put them in ordinary social settings – nursing children, retouching makeup or beside the stove.
In so doing, Grobet brings together the extraordinary costumes of the luchador with the ordinariness of every day, resulting in work that is surprising, touching and intimate. This was not to everybody’s taste because she portrayed luchadores not as sports heroes, but as life heroes. She sometimes cast the luchador in poses of vulnerability that defied their strength in the ring. Critics say she is, without a doubt, the greatest luchador photographer of all time. For some, their earliest knowledge about wrestling is from her photography.
Groubet sought out the kind of art that did not require validation or commercial profit. She situated herself to work collectively and collaboratively, making her work the product of the community. As a young artist, one of her mentors and teachers, Mathias Goeretz gave her a mantra she would claim for her own: “If you don’t enjoy your life with art, forget about it. And don’t take yourself too seriously”.
In an interview with Miller Schuman Grobet outlined some of the steps of her career. After studying in England and coming home, her work took on a slightly more political shade. ‘But not in the ‘working for a political party’ way of speaking. My political inclinations were towards working for the needs of people and working in the streets.’
As a girl, she asked her father to take her to the fights but he always refused. When she finally went, she found ‘the real Mexico’. What she meant by this was the cultural paradigm that were the luchadores of Mexico. She decided to photograph the women athletes, many of whom could not support their wrestling without the help of other jobs. She created an exhibition entitled ‘Lucha por la vida’, or ‘Fighting for life.’ In so doing she did something that had never been done before: documenting the lives of luchadores.
Her children described her as a ‘free spirit, fun and full’. She died on July 15, 2022 in Mexico City and is survived by her four children she had with ex-husband Xavier Perez Barba.
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