I mentioned Bravo the other day when I came across the book of his Polaroids (which I'm still eagerly waiting to see).
"When Alvarez Bravo began photographing in the 1920s, the cultural effervescence that followed the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) had unleashed a national search for identity, and the question of what to do with Mexico’s inherent exoticism was the burning issue for photographers. Perhaps influenced by his relationship with Weston and Modotti, Alvarez Bravo was the first Mexican photographer to take a militantly anti-picturesque stance, and he achieved international recognition for work which reached creative heights from the late 1920s through the mid-1950s, a period during which he perfected a sophisticated approach to representing his culture. Conscious both of Mexico’s otherness and the way in which that has led almost naturally to stereotypical imagery, Alvarez Bravo has always swum counter to the stream of established clichés, using visual irony to contradict what he initially appears to saying, hence inviting the viewer to engage in the task of interpretation.
Consider Sed pública (Public Thirst), the 1934 photo of a boy drinking water from a village well. This image contains all the elements necessary to make it picturesque: a young peasant, dressed in the white clothing
typical of his culture, perches on a battered village well to drink the water which flows from it; an adobe wall behind provides texture. But, the light in the image seems to concentrate itself on the foot that juts forward into the frame, a foot that is too particular, too individual to be able to “stand for” the Mexican peasantry, and thus represent their other-worldliness. It is this boy’s foot, not a typical peasant’s foot, and it goes against the expectations of picturesqueness raised by the other elements, “saving” the image through its very particularity...
Manuel Alvarez Bravo has been a definitive influence on Mexican and Latin American photography. His rejection of facile picturesqueness, his insistently ambiguous irony, and his redemption of common folk and their daily subsistence have marked out a path of high standards for photographers from his area."
There are numerous books available about him (including the Polaroids) such as here and here along with an interesting comparison:Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson And Walker Evans: Documentary And Anti-Graphic Photographs, and also some good info at the Getty and at MoMA with a good essay on his work as well as images.