A painter, photographer, film director and creator of multimedia installations, Miguel Rio Branco currently lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. He studied at the New York Institute of Photography and the Escola Superior de Desenho Industrial in Rio de Janeiro. Although he began working simultaneously on painting and photography, he eventually chose the latter genre. From 1970 to 1972 he worked as a photographer and film director in New York and in 1978 he began collaborating with the agency Magnum Photos as a correspondent in Latin America.
Documental photography, with an intensely poetical content reflected in an accentuated use of light and shade, is one of the backbones of Rio Branco’s career. His aim is to paint with photography, adopting a stance as a creator that is voluntarily distant from the classical concept of photography. The use of colour in his photographs results from this pictorial influence and at the same is related to a dramatic vision of life. His work methodology is based on the construction and complementariness of images via montage and collage, but without depriving the image of its inherent force. Transcendental questions such as life, death or sexuality are some of the themes his work references.
Aside from his continued collaboration with Magnum, his photos have been published in international magazines such as Stern, National Geographic, Geo, Aperture or Photo Magazine. He has been the object of exhibitions in museums all over the world: Centre Pompidou (Paris, 1983), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (1989), Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (1996), Tate (Liverpool, 1999), Fundació “la Caixa” (Barcelona, 1999 and Palma de Mallorca, 2000), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, 2001), Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris, 2005), Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo, 2008), Kulturhuset (Stockholm, 2011).
His work forms part of the following public and private collections: Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Centre Pompidou (Paris), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum of Photographic Arts of San Diego, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid) and Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma, among others. He won the Grand Prize of the First Triennial of Photography of the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo and the Prix Kodak de la Critique Photographique (France, 1982).