This slide lecture will introduce the groundbreaking exhibition that literally "rewrites" the history of American art by challenging the assumption that the French were the major source of influence on American art in the first half of the 20th century. Indeed, Jackson Pollock, the founder of Abstract Expressionism, the first American art movement that gained international recognition and moved the world art capital from Paris to New York, readily acknowledged the crucial importance of the Mexican muralists to the development of his art.
Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945 will be on exhibit at the Whitney Museum of Art from February 17 - May 17, 2020
After the Mexican 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." American artists who were seeking to break free of European aesthetic domination to create publicly significant art were inspired by the efforts of their Mexican neighbors. 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. The "Vida Americana" exhibition, presenting close to 200 works by sixty Mexican and American artists, "reorients art history by revealing the profound impact the Mexican muralists 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."