The Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., will host MEX/LA:“Mexican” Modernism(s) in Los Angeles, 1930-1985 as part of Pacific Standard Time, an initiative of the Getty Museum. This unprecedented collaboration brings together more than 60 cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the LA art scene.
MEX/LA: “Mexican” Modernism(s) in Los Angeles, 1930-1985 focuses on the construction of different notions of “Mexicanidad” within modernist and contemporary art created in Los Angeles. The period from 1945 to 1985 is attributed as the time when Los Angeles consolidated itself as an important cultural center, however, this timeframe excludes the controversial and important presence of the Mexican muralists and the production of other artists who were influenced by them and responded to their ideas.
It is often perceived that Los Angeles’s Mexican culture is alien and comes from elsewhere when in fact it originated in the city– it was in Los Angeles and Southern California that José Vasconcelos, Ricardo Flores Magón, Octavio Paz and other intellectuals developed the idea of modern Mexico while Anglos and Chicanos were developing their own. This is the place where Siqueiros and Orozco made some of their first murals, and Los Angeles is the capital of Chicano art.
These ideas and the iconography that resulted from them created a series of archetypes that often turned into stereotypes in popular culture, which throughout time have been contested, appropriated and reclaimed by the different inhabitants and cultural producers of the city. The purpose of this exhibition is not so much cultural affirmation and/or historical revisionism, but to understand how nationalism and internationalism are modernist constructions that are not necessarily exclusive but often complementary and fundamental in the formation of Mexican, American, Chicano art and the art of the city.
The exhibition’s historiography and non-linear narratives will explore different media, points of view and notions of art and culture, including murals, easel painting, photography, film, animation, cars, fashion, and performance art.
Artists in the exhibition include Carlos Almaraz, Asco, Louis Carlos Bernal, Walt Disney Studio artists, Charles and Ray Eames, Juan García Esquivel, Roberto Gil de Montes, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Graciela Iturbide, David Levine, Yolanda López, Mónica Mayer, Tina Modotti, José Clemente Orozco, Adolfo Patiño, Martín Ramírez, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, Millard Sheets, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Robert Stacy-Judd, John Valadez, Edward Weston and Max Yavno, among others.
MEX/LA will be accompanied by a scholarly catalogue with black-and-white and color illustrations, published by Hatje Cantz Verlag.
MEX/LA: “Mexican” Modernism(s) in Los Angeles, 1930-1985 was organized by the Museum of Latin American Art and curated by Rubén Ortiz-Torres in association with Jesse Lerner and coordinated by MOLAA’s chief curator, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, with assistant curator Selene Preciado as project manager.
Pacific Standard Time is a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California, coming together for six months beginning in October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the Los Angeles art scene and how it became a major new force in the art world. Each institution will make its own contribution to this grand-scale story of artistic innovation and social change, told through a multitude of simultaneous exhibitions and programs. Exploring and celebrating the significance of the crucial post-World War II years through the tumultuous period of the 1960s and 70s, Pacific Standard Time encompasses developments from LA Pop to post-minimalism; from modernist architecture and design to multi-media installations; from the films of the African American LA Rebellion to the feminist activities of the Woman’s Building; from ceramics to Chicano performance art; and from Japanese American design to the pioneering work of artists’ collectives.
Initiated through $10 million in grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time involves cultural institutions of every size and character across Southern California, from Greater Los Angeles to San Diego and Santa Barbara to Palm Springs.