Miguel Angel Cuarterolo (1950-2002)

The history of Latin American photography lost one of its most thoughtful proponents last November with the death of Miguel Angel Cuarterolo, the victim of a brain aneurism at age 51. Known to his foreign colleagues as Don Mac, Cuarterolo was a pioneer in his .eld and also a warm and supportivefriend. Most previous scholars had used photographs exclusively as background illustrations, but Cuarterolo helped give his subject a new and more sophisti-cated direction. He examined photos not just to understand their historical content but to discover the technique, the subtlety, and the artist within them. The fact that the photographer might be long dead meant nothing: he or she could still be understood through the photos. Not surprisingly, Cuarterolo was himself a professional photographer.
Born in Buenos Aires, he launched his freelance career in the 1970 publishing in such popular magazines as Esquiú, Siete Días and Panorama. He later worked as graphic reporter for Noticias Argentinas UPI-Reuters and, since 1990 as an editor for Clarín- Cuarterolo's efforts as a photojournalist won him considerable acclaim, but his work as a historian of Latin American photography went much further in cementing his reputation. He was a founding member of the Centro de Investigaciones sobre Fotografía en la Argentina, the Congress of the History of Photography, and, more recently, of the Ibero-American Society of the His story of Photography. He also authored many articles and several noteworthy books on photographic topics, including Imágenes del Río de la Plata (Editorial del Fotórafo, 1983), Los años del daguerrotipo (Fundación Antorchas, 1995), Soldados de la memoria (Planeta, 2000), and Producción y trabajo en la Argentina: Memoria fotográfica, 1860-1960 (Banco Bice;Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, 2002). Cuarterolo always felt very concerned with the preservation of older materials and scoured many a dusty attic or studio in search of pictures. Where possible, he gathered information on the lives of the early photographers (with whom he clearly felt some kinship). He also collected antique cameras, the operation of which fascinated him as much as the pictures they produced.

It is always a great tragedy when an individual of talent dies so young. Words tend to fail us when we try to describe how we feel. So, perhaps, as we mourn Don Mac's passing, we would all be better served by looking at a photo that decorates the inside .ap of one of his books. It is a sepia image of a smiling, mustachioed gentleman in a sweater leaning over an old tripod camera and beckoning us forward to share his delight in photography. That was Don Mac, pure and simple. Miguel Angel Cuarterolo will be sorely missed. He left a wife and two children and many, many admirers.

Thomas Whigham

Hispanic American Historical Review 84:1

Copyright 2004 by Duke University Press

Section photo:Photo by Pablo Cuarterolo, courtesy of Andrea Cuarterolo.