Mario Cravo Neto was born in Salvador, Bahia in 1947. The son of Mario Cravo Junior, a well-known Brazilian sculptor, Crave Neto (grandson) started creating art at an early age. Initially interested in sculpture, Crave Neto turned his attention to photography in the late sixties. At the age of twenty, Cravo Neto moved to New York for two years to take classes at the Art Students League and set up a photo studio. It was this experience in New York that solidified his love for photography.
Shortly after returning home to Brazil, Crave Neto was in a car accident that left him bedridden for a full year. Having worked as as street photographer in New York, he suddenly found himself unable to walk, and in need of a new way of working. Forced to re-evaluate his photography, he set up lights and began shooting in the studio, which he continues to do today.
Combining spiritual, mystical and religious elements — eggs, birds, animals, fish and bones — with nude torsos, Cravo Neto creates sensual images which unite man and nature, the erotic and the spiritual. His images reveal a psychological portrait of the Indigenous, Portuguese and African communities that co-exist in Bahia today. Often evoking a ritual look, Cravo Neto’s photographs invite the viewer to wander through black spaces, to linger on specific objects that are both elegant and primitive.
One of this most renown images features a man with two fish slung over his shoulder, reminiscent of a market scene, yet layered with sexual and religious overtones; a man facing the camera, his chin thrown back, holding a large white bird over his care chest in an act of sacrifice; the wrinkled forehead of a man whose eyes are covered by the tails of two tiny white birds, obscuring his eyesight but not his vision.