Hector Acebes

Hector Acebes is 88 years old and lives in Bogotá, Colombia. He was born in New York City in 1921. He attended elementary school in Madrid and middle school in Bogotá. As a teenager, he graduated from the New York Military Academy (NYMA), where he participated in camera club activities, and at fifteen, Acebes persuaded his parents to let him to make his first daring solo excursion, a sequence of boat trips up the Orinoco and other rivers of eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. After graduation from NYMA in the early l940s, Acebes enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study engineering. He set up a small photo studio in Cambridge and developed his technical skills further. Acebes served for two years in Germany, France, and Belgium with the U.S. Army during WW2. Hector returned to MIT as a junior and graduated in 1947.

In late 1947, Acebes headed for Spain to work on a feature film, but the producer's plans fell through. Rather than returning home, Hector traveled on to North Africa. He was captivated by the intermingling of varied cultures. The continent's diverse peoples, dress and adornment, color, tones, textures, light, architectural elements and geographic features provided him with astonishing subjects for his photographs and film footage. He followed this trip with a second journey, also in northern Africa and Mali, in 1949. He spent three months exploring and photographing whatever captured his imagination. The highlight of this trip was a camel trek to Timbuktu in Mali, a destination exceedingly difficult to get to in 1949. Some of his most striking images come from this journey. The works shown here cover the five years of Acebes extended travel in Africa, documenting the peoples of the late-colonial period of fifty years before with dignity, pride, and an intimacy rarely achieved even in contemporary photographic work.

See also: Hector Acebes Portraits in Africa, 1948–1953 By Isolde Brielmaier and Ed Marquand
144 pp, 90 duotone illus., 9.75 × 121 in., cloth, isbn 0-295-98413-9

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