Published: January 28, 2020
NEW YORK CITY – With approximately 200 works by 60 artists from the United States and Mexico, “Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945” will reveal the profound impact of Mexico’s three leading muralists – José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera – on the style, subject matter and ideology of art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945.
Organized by curator Barbara Haskell, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant, “Vida Americana” will be on view at the Whitney from February 17 through May 17.
The exhibition features murals and easel paintings that will be on loan from Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and the United Kingdom for the exhibition. These include works that are rarely exhibited in the United States, including Rivera’s 1932 studies for his destroyed and infamous Rockefeller Center mural, “Man at the Crossroads,” on loan from the Museo Anahuacalli in Mexico City; Marí Izquierdo’s” My Nieces” (1940) and Siqueiros’s “Proletarian Mother” (1929), on loan from the Museo Nacional de Arte; and two paintings by Japanese-born artist Eitar Ishigaki, on loan from Japan’s Museum of Modern Art in Wakayama.
The museum has engaged in an ongoing initiative to improve access for Spanish-speaking visitors. For “Vida Americana,” a number of resources will be available in both English and Spanish, including all exhibition texts, the mobile guide, exhibition tours and a Family Guide that will feature texts and in-gallery activities. The guide is available free of charge to all families who visit the Whitney as well as to elementary school-aged students who visit the museum. The museum also announced programs being organized by its education department on the occasion of the exhibition, including a full-day symposium featuring artists, curators, educators and scholars presenting new perspectives on the role of Mexican Muralism in the United States.
Other programming highlights include Tours for Immigrant Families, Teen Night and a Community Partnership Mural Project with The Door and artist Sophia Dawson.
By presenting the art of the Mexican muralists alongside that of their American contemporaries, “Vida Americana” reveals the influence of Mexican art, particularly on those looking for inspiration and models beyond European modernism and the School of Paris, during the interwar period. Works by both well-known and underrecognized American artists will be exhibited, including those by Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Marion Greenwood, William Gropper, Philip Guston, Eitar Ishigaki, Jacob Lawrence, Harold Lehman, Fletcher Martin, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Thelma Johnson Streat, Charles White and Hale Woodruff.
In addition to Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros, other key Mexican artists included in the exhibition include Miguel Covarrubias, Marí Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Mardonio Magaña, Alfredo Ramos Martínez and Rufino Tamayo.
The Whitney Museum of American Art is at 900 Gansevoort Street. For information and tickets, 212-570-3600 or www.whitney.org.
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