Mexico Modern: Art, Commerce and Cultural Exchange 1920-1945
Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins
The international popularity and prestige of modern Mexican art during the 1920s and 1930s grew out of a dynamic cultural exchange between Mexico and the United States. This exchange encompassed artists such as painters Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Ru fino Tamayo; graphic designer and art historian Miguel Covarrubias; photographers Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, and Manuel Alvarez Bravo; and jewelry designer William Spratling. Their work was championed by journalists, publishers, and arts promoters, who w rote critically acclaimed books and articles and mounted landmark exhibitions. Americans and Mexicans were drawn to each other’s cultures for a variety of reasons. For some Americans, Mexico’s pursuit of a progressive political agenda, which was manifest i n a socially engaged art, was compelling. Americans were also attracted to contemporary Mexican art’s synthesis of the ancient and the modern, as well as to the country’s rich and ongoing traditions of craft and folk art, often identified as “popular art.” This mix of old and new, “high” and “low,” stood in contrast to the consumer culture that was dramatically reshaping twentieth - century America. Mexican artists and powerbrokers, for their part, found the United States valuable as an international financia l center. Four cities -- New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Mexico City — were particularly critical to the widespread artistic recognition and acceptance of Mexican art. This book will feature paintings, drawings, photographs, and ephemera from the extra - ord inary collections of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and also from other museums and libraries throughout the United States and Mexico.