Mexico was a popular tourist destination in the 1920s and 1930s, and artists and writers were drawn to the sunny climate and peasant culture. Bruehl travelled to Mexico in 1932 and the images he took became his finest body of art photography. Twenty-five of Bruehl’s Mexican photographs were published in 1933, in his award-winning folio Photographs of Mexico.
Intimate, quiet, sparse and elegant, the images contain an often sombre tone, which may echo Bruehl’s ambivalent feelings for the place; his mentor and friend Clarence H White had tragically died while visiting Mexico City in 1925.
Bruehl departed from the exoticism and Spanish-flavoured Catholicism that is often present in other photographers’ images of Mexico. Instead, his straightforward, carefully posed and unpretentious images reflect his respect for his subjects. Bruehl’s images garnered praise from critics as well as artist peers, such as photographer Ansel Adams and Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, who claimed that ‘this is certainly Mexico as revealed by great photography’.