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Tuesday, September 7th 2010

1:00 PM

. . . and now, for a little piece on Art History

. . . Mexican Art and Los Angeles, 1920-1940

Diego Rivera  'Día de Flores' - Flower Day'  1925. Oil on canvas, 58 × 47½ in.
 Copyrighted: Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Los Angeles County Fund


"During the 1920s and 1930s the Mexican artists were never marginalized or ignored in Los Angeles. Instead, they contributed in a meaningful way to the vibrant local culture and shared a commitment to developing an aesthetics suited to the time. Influential as they were, however, they were themselves influenced by the Los Angeles aesthetic and cultural ambience—Ramos Martínez, in particular. He made an extraordinary shift in his conception of space and volume in his paintings in response to the works of the sculptor George Stanley (for example, the monumental Griffith Park Astronomers and the modernist-style Oscar statuette).

The last important Mexican exhibition of the twenties and thirties in Los Angeles was The Indefinite Period (1942), a traveling show organized by McKinley Helms at the Institute of Modern Art in Boston. In it were works by Rufino Tamayo, Antonio Ruiz, Carlos Orozco Romero, Dr. Atl, María Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Jesús Guerrero Galván, Federico Cantú, and Guillermo Meza, some of whom (Izquierdo, Meza) were exhibiting for the first time in Southern California.

The next exhibition was not until 1953. The migrants who came from the Midwest and the East Coast during the war years looking for work in the growing aircraft industry created a different climate, in which things Mexican were viewed with suspicion. Incidents such as the Zoot-suit riots and the Sleepy Lagoon murder case helped to eradicate the goodwill established during two decades of cross-cultural influences. The focus of American art, and thus American art history, shifted eastward. As it did, the Mexican artists and their work faded from memory, and an important part of Southern California's cultural history was almost forgotten."

by Margarita Nieto

Copyrighted by University of California Press - excerpted from UC Press E-Books Collection


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