A Pass in the Final Stage (1996)
Black & white photograph (Giclée) by Michael Whitaker


  • Black & white photograph (Giclée), Paper
  • From a limited edition of 100
  • Size: 19 × 13 × 0.02 in (unframed) / 18.13 × 12.13 in (actual image size)
  • This artwork is sold unframed
  • Signed and numbered on the back

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Michael Whitaker

United States

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Artist's description:

This is an October 1996 photograph of a bull fight in the historic Plaza de Toros in the town of Torremolinos along Costa del Sol of Spain. As preface, please permit me to say, as a documentary photographer, my goal is to document various aspects of diverse cultures. Upon learning bull fights were considered performance art instead of sport, I was drawn to create a photo essay about bull fighting. In this photograph can be seen the matador during the third and final stage, Tercio de Muerte ("the third of death"), of the bull fight. The unidentified matador successfully had enticed the bull to charge the cape (Capote de Paseo). Dangling from the bull are two visible banderillas (barbed sticks) previously placed by the Banderilleros, who then were observing the event from behind the wall in the right background. The bull was killed shortly after this image was captured and later was butchered and placed in the vehicles of individuals who had purchased the meat. As a 30-year vegetarian and life-long student of animal behavior, it always was difficult to witness the kill but I did learn to appreciate the art of the performance. Such is the nature of my approach to documentary photography. As a footnote, after the final bull fight an old Spanish gentleman approached me to comment on the intensity of my efforts to photograph all six bull fights and inquire about my nationality. I explained I was an American and asked what his response would be to Americans who might question the validity (humaneness) of bull fighting. His response was, "I wouldn't say anything because Americans never listen to anyone." When I respectfully pushed for a response, the old gentleman solemnly stared at me and said, "In Spain we kill bulls. In America you kill each other." Impacted by my background working with violent juvenile offenders, including ones adjudicated for "murder," I had nothing else to say as the old man turned and walked away.

Materials used:

This photograph was created from a Kodak Tri-X negative scanned with a Nikon Super Coolscan 8000 ED and processed via Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop before being printed as a giclee on archival 100% cotton rag fine art paper.

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