Julio Mitchel was born and raised in Cuba and has worked in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil. “Each culture is totally different and they have different racial mixes,” Mr. Mitchel said. “The only thing in common is the language, and — because of cultural nuances and regional dialects — that’s totally different, too.”
A few months after the Cuban revolution, Mr. Mitchel, then 17, went to New York City. Though he had intended to be a lawyer, he didn’t enjoy school. He took a series of jobs as a photographic assistant, mostly to fashion photographers. While he was picking up technical skills, he developed the habit of regularly expressing his contempt for the fashion world.
His life changed when he took a photography class with Lisette Model at the New School. In the first class, the students showed their work. Ms. Model’s critique reduced Mr. Mitchel to tears. But he returned to class and she later became a friend.
“I will always be grateful for her for wiping the floor with me,” he said. “Many years later, when I became a photography teacher, I was known as being a very tough teacher. I wore it as a badge of honor.”
— James Estrin
Mitchel’s work is as varied as it is powerful. Addressing areas as incendiary as Northern Ireland to the Middle East, Jazz, Love and politics, the work is always beautiful but never strays from the directimpact its message serves to convey. Mitchel has exhibited his photography widely, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and other major international museums. His photography is also represented in numerous permanent collections and has twice received major artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. There are two monographs of Mitchel’s photography, Tu Me Amas? – which coincided with an exhibition at the IVAM Museum, Valencia, Spain – and Triptych, which coincided with major exhibitions at the Musée de L’Eysée, Lausanne, Switzerland and les Rencontres Internationales, Arles, France. Both monographs are now out of print.