Art historian and curator Barbara Haskell will discuss Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945, on view at the Whitney Museum (99 Gansevoort Street) February 17 – May 17, 2020.
Mexico underwent a radical cultural transformation at the end of its Revolution in 1920. A new relationship between art and the public was established, giving rise to art that spoke directly to the people about social justice and national life. The model galvanized artists in the United States who were seeking to break free of European aesthetic domination to create publicly significant and accessible art. Numerous American artists traveled to Mexico, and the leading Mexican muralists—José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—spent extended periods of time in the United States, executing murals, paintings, and prints; exhibiting their work; and interacting with local artists.
A number of Art Students League artists are included in the show including Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Marion Greenwood, Philip Guston, Eitarö Ishigaki, Fletcher Martin, Isamu Noguchi, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, and Charles White.
With approximately 200 works by sixty Mexican and American artists, this exhibition demonstrates the impact Mexican artists had on their counterparts in the United States during this period and the ways in which their example inspired American artists both to create epic narratives about American history and everyday life, and to use their art to protest economic, social, and racial injustices.
Free and open to the public
Photo Credit: Diego Rivera, The Uprising (1931). © 2019 Banco de México–Rivera–Kahlo/ARS. Reproduction authorized by the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL), 2019.