Graciela Iturbide began to work as a photographer in the early 1960s, and was for a time Manual Álvarez Bravo’s pupil and assistant. One of the most important and prolific figures in Mexican photography, Iturbide is best known for her photographs of the country’s indigenous peoples living in small villages. Her portraits emphasize Mexicans’ connection to pre-Hispanic culture, and tell the story of a country and a culture in constant transition—from premodern to modern ways of working and socializing, and from rural to urban life. At the same time, however, she has made stunning pictures of the landscape in Mexico and beyond. This photograph, made in Switzerland in 2009, is evidence that Iturbide’s talent for capturing striking aspects of her environment transcends her initial focus on Mexico. Two gnarled branches sprout a fretwork of thinner stems that slash the pale-gray sky. Iturbide’s talent for black-and-white printing is emphasized by the leaves clinging intermittently to them: some are dark silhouettes, while others are picked out in detail by the light.

Graciela Iturbide’s work is included in museum collections the world over. She has won the W. Eugene Smith award, Grand Prize at Le Mois de la Photo, the Recontres d’Arles Award, and the Hasselblad Award and has been featured in numerous photobooks, including Mexican Portraits (Aperture, 2013).