Kati Horna Mexican, 1912-2000


Kati Horna was born and raised in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire to a Jewish family, later moving to Berlin for an education. The subject matter in her photography revolves around the politics and aftermath of the European interwar period she lived through. Her Surrealist photographs show moments during the wars through the lens of a woman, working in a time when photography was a male-dominated industry.


Her time spent in Berlin as a teenager shaped her interest in photography, introducing her to Surrealist, Bauhaus, and Constructivist art. After moving to Budapest in her twenties, she became an apprentice for the notable photographer József Pesci, in addition to taking classes in photography at a reputable photography school. It was in Budapest where she met acclaimed photographer Robert Capa, a close friend, and an important influence in Horna’s life. She was inspired by his political photography and focused her work on depicting those impacted by the war, specifically women. She moved to Paris in 1933, where her interest in Surrealism continued.


In 1939 after the Nazi’s occupation of France, Horna fled Paris, moved to Mexico, and fell in love with the country. During her time in Mexico, she worked on a handful of magazines on graphics, editing, and photography, and later became a photography professor until 1963. Horna worked as a photographer for such publications as NosotrosMujeresMexico This Month, and Diseño. In 1962 she created the series Fetiche (Fetish), for the influential if short-lived magazine S.nob, which offered the photographer unique opportunities for creative exploration. Between 1958 and 1968 she was the photography editor for Mujeres, a publication dedicated to women writers, artists, and other cultural agents.


Her work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Hammer Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; CRAI Biblioteca Pavelló de la Republica, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; Mercantil Cultura Collection; the Getty Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.