Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art 1925-1945
Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney’s most recent exhibit is dedicated to the influence of a group of Mexican muralists who emerged following the Mexican Revolution which ended in 1920. It focuses on three artists: José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. All of them spent some time in the U.S. and created some murals here. The exhibit also features the works of some of the artists, both American and Mexican, who were influenced by the muralists.
Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato in 1886. He was an atheist and member of the Mexican Communist Party, though he was later expelled from the party for being a Trotskyite. Rivera studied art in both Paris and Italy. He created murals in San Francisco, Detroit and New York. The artist Frida Kahlo was the fourth of his five wives. They married in 1929, divorced in 1939, and then remarried in 1940.
Jose Clemente Orozco
Jose Clemente Orozco was born in 1883 in what is now Ciudad Guzman. When he was 21, he lost his left hand while making fireworks. He is best known for political murals. He lived in the U.S. from 1927-34 and he painted murals in New York, California and at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He also illustrated John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.
David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Alfaro Siqueiros was born in Chichuahua in 1896. By the age of 18 he was a member of the Constitutional Army fighting the government of Victoriano Huerta. He would be a political activist throughout his life. He lived and worked in Los Angles for a spell in the 1930’s but was deported by the U.S. government. In 1938 he was fighting in Spain against Franco and back home in 1940 he led an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Trotsky who was in exile in Mexico. In 1960 he was imprisoned after leading protests against the arrest of striking workers and teachers.