Martin Chambi

(b. Coaza, Puno, November 5, 1891 – d. Cusco, September 13, 1973)

Martin Chambi at Machu Picchu, 1943

Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, proved the ideal setting for my maternal grandfather Martin Chambi to set his visual aesthetics against a backdrop of archaeological motifs. There, he snapped images that would become renowned the world over after his first visit in 1925. His interest in the remains of Incan civilization strewn throughout the Cusco region was unceasing. This was especially true of the sacred city itself, which he captured on 18×24 cm glass sheets. Today, these images are a stunning record of the breathtaking Incan architecture, which remained intact while Colonial and modern buildings sprang up around it.

Framed in a unique combination of time and setting, the photographer’s respectful gaze, together with his sensibility and technique, have left us a historical legacy, a profoundly human visual testimony. The photography of Martin Chambi, one of the most universal Peruvian artists of the 20th century, is imbued with an enormous anthropological significance; in his images, he succeeded in capturing the underlying dignity of the Andean cultural identity. (Text by Teo Alain Chambi, from the book Machu Picchu: Song of Stone)

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