The Artist Birthday Series

Tina Modotti

Tina Modotti: photographer, model, muse, actress, activist, spy

Tina Modotti (1896–1942) was an Italian photographer, model, actress, and revolutionary political activist, that despite dying young, led an intensely full and impassioned life.

Portrait of Tina Modotti, by Edward Weston

Modotti was born Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti Mondini in Udine, Friuli, Italy. Her mother, Assunta, was a seamstress and her father, Giuseppe, was a mason. In 1913, at the age of 16, she immigrated to the United States to join her father in San Francisco, California.


Attracted to the performing arts supported by the Italian émigré community in the San Francisco Bay Area, she experimented with acting. She appeared in several plays, operas, and silent movies in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and also worked as an artist’s model.

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2 thoughts on “Tina Modotti

  1. Thank you for this beautiful piece. Can you please explain why you think the picture of Frida and Chavela was taken by MOdotti? Most accredit to NIck Muray (although i know thats wrong from conversations with Muray’s daughter). Any information greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Rachael,

      Thanks for your message. I believe I got the information just from searching the net, and after seeing a few places where the photo was attributed to Modotti, I assumed that was the case. I just searched again and I cannot find anything definitive, but here are a few links where I found that attribution:,, I never use images from Pinterest or Tumblr photos as one never knows about who really took what, etc. But I felt at the time, that it was indeed one of Modotti’s photos. I will leave it in for now, and do a bit more Googling around, but if you find out one way or the other, please feel free to let me know!

      Thanks again,
      ~ Terri

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