This evening at The Wolfsonian, we are celebrating the publication of the “Mexico” themed issue of the Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts with a book signing following a talk by two specialists on modern Mexican art. Lynda Klich, visiting assistant professor of art history, Hunter College, CUNY and guest editor for the journal will be discussing trends in Mexican art with Anna Indych-López, associate professor of art history, CCNY and CUNY Graduate Center and author of Muralism without Walls: Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros in the United States, 1927-1940. They will be touching on such formats as stained glass, painting, architecture, furniture design, and political caricature.
Personally, I have always been a fan of the artwork of the famous Mexican muralists of the 1930s, with their strong political and populist themes. Sadly, while the mural that Diego Rivera originally painted on the walls of the Rockefeller Centre was demolished on the orders of the patron—(who objected to the inclusion of a portrait of Lenin in his cathedral to capitalism!)—fortunately, the image was reproduced by the artist and still graces the interior wall of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Taking a little “creative license” with the timing of the Rivera-Rockefeller controversy, the director of the 1999 film, Cradle Will Rock referenced this incident while focusing on the HUAAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) attacks on the Federal Theatre Project. (See the Youtube trailer included in my “The Play’s The Thing” Sept. 29, 2010 blog)
The Wolfsonian library also holds some works by Miguel Covarrubias, a contemporary and associate of Rivera also known for his unabashed political caricatures as well as for his impressive contributions to Mexican ethnography and culture. The library holds a copy of the October 1932 issue of the American magazine Vanity Fair which featured his caricature of Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini.
Covarrubias also created some murals for his Northern neighbors which decorated the walls of the Pacific House pavilion at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, 1939-1940.
Six large mural maps were designed to represent the Pacific Area, focusing on the people, plants and animals, products, and native dwellings, art forms, and modes of transportation.
The Wolfsonian-FIU library holds a large format portfolio with beautiful color reproductions of the murals published by Pacific House and lithographed by the H. S. Crocker and Schwabacher-Frey companies.
I hope to see my local blog readers at tonight’s event. The Wolfsonian would like to express its gratitude to The Cultural Institute of Mexico in Miami who generously cosponsored this event as part of the 3rd Festival México Miami.