Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
Luces y Sombras: 14 Travelers in Mexico
Photographs from the Bank of America Collection and
May 24 — December 1, 2013
Long Beach, CA – The twentieth century saw numerous internationally acclaimed photographers travel through Mexico and document the country from their unique perspectives. Some of these artists were drawn to Mexico for its revolutionary socio-political ideas, while others felt a kinship with the Mexican pictorial movement and its new realism, a post-Mexican Revolution art movement that was developed in opposition to formalism. A number of photographers had simply traveled to Mexico on vacation and were inspired to incorporate that experience into their art, while others were drawn to the country’s ancient history and spirituality or the desire to document its sacred monuments.
The core of the exhibition Luces y Sombras is Paul Strand’s Mexican Portfolio, from 1933. Aware of the revolutionary ideas at work in Mexico at the time, Strand relocated there in 1932 and accepted a position as a photographer with the Mexican government in 1933. The extraordinary portraits, landscapes, architectural shots and works of folk art exhibited here are from that period.
Each of the other thirteen photographers represented here visited Mexico before and after Strand. In the 1920s, Edward Weston set up a commercial portrait studio with Tina Modotti, allowing him to stay for an extended period and explore his own Modernist vision. Wayne Miller, Harry Callahan and Danny Lyon followed in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, respectively, and made their own documentary-style observations of the country. Others, including Aaron Siskind, Sally Gall and Wijnanda Deroo, were inspired by their most sought-after subjects in a new place. Brett Weston, Mario Algaze and Kenro Izu photographed landscapes depicting local architecture, both sacred and mundane. Elliott Erwitt visited the catacombs in Guanajuato and captured his subject. H. Arthur Taussig, while on vacation, created works in homage to pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Nan Goldin made an environmental portrait of her friend Suzanne, imbued with a red hue that is indicative of her characteristic use of existing light.
Mexico’s politics, diverse landscapes, ancient history and existing culture have lured and influenced photographers since the advent of the medium. Several renowned American photographers, such as Paul Strand, Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, took up residence in Mexico for years at a time. The result was cross-pollination between Mexican and American artists that has enriched the field of photography in countless ways. Luces y Sombras offers a glimpse at some of the images that testify to that fruitful exchange.
Luces y Sombras was curated by Lillian Lambrechts and sponsored by Bank of America.
May 24, 2013 – January 12, 2014
This exhibition, comprised of works of art from MOLAA’s Collection, explores issues related to nature including the way artists depict its wild beauty and changing state. Some of the works selected also comment on the effects of human intervention on it.
The theme of nature practically disappeared from the history of art with the arrival of the modern period which focused on subjects related to progress and advancement. However, postmodernity, at the end of the 1960s, brought back the need to address nature and merge social issues with ecological concerns as seen in the works of land art artists such as Alan Sonfist, Robert Smithson and Richard Long, among others. Landscape and nature have always been important themes in Latin American art, especially because of the contrast between the vast natural resources and the great modern metropolises in countries such as Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil.
Disrupted Nature opens with an introduction to the different ways that nature and landscapes have been depicted by artists; from traditional paintings such as the work of Francisco Toledo and Judith Gutiérrez to photographs and media art. Other sections address topics such as industrial vs. natural surroundings with the work of Lucía Madriz and Florence Vaisberg, nature and living conditions with photographs by Atelier Morales and Ingrid Hernández and exploitation of the environment and its resources with pieces by Verónica Riedel and Pedro Reyes. The works in the exhibition also explore social issues related to the desolation and damage of the ecosystem, the use of organic vs. industrial or artificial materials, as well as the poetic effects of time and human intervention on both the urban and natural landscape.
The exhibition, curated by Idurre Alonso and Selene Preciado, includes several recent acquisitions to our Collection with works by artists such as Alberto Baraya and Florencio Gelabert, who use artificial plants to comment on postcolonial issues and ecology; while pieces by Patrick Hamilton and Lucía Madriz Segura comment on the relationship between man and nature.
Funding for Disrupted Nature was provided by the Robert Gumbiner Foundation, the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach.
MOLAA Hours: Wed., Thurs., Sat. and Sunday, 11:00am – 5:00pm, Fri., 11:00am – 9:00pm
Closed on Monday and Tuesday
Admission: $9.00 General/ $6.00 Students (w/ID) and Seniors (65+)
Members and children under 12 FREE
Free Admission on Sundays sponsored by Target
About the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)
The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) was founded in 1996 in Long Beach, California and serves the greater Los Angeles area. MOLAA is the only museum in the United States exclusively dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art. Since its inception, MOLAA has doubled its size, added a 15,000 sq. ft. sculpture garden and expanded its permanent collection, ranging from works by Tamayo and Matta to Cruz-Diez, Los Carpinteros and Tunga. With its physical expansion complete, MOLAA presents a major exhibition schedule, educational outreach and serves as a platform for cross-cultural dialogue.