The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film at LACMA

Dates: September 22, 2013–February 2, 2014
Location: Art of the Americas Building, Level 2, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

From the early 1930s through the early 1980s, the Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (1907–1997) helped forge an evocative and enduring image of Mexico, its history, its landscape and its people. Among the most important cinematographers of the so-called Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, Figueroa worked with leading directors from Mexico, the United States and Europe—traversing a wide range of genres while maintaining his distinctive and vivid visual style. In the 1930s, Figueroa joined a vibrant context of photographers, filmmakers, painters, printmakers and muralists—including Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Edward Weston and Manuel Alvarez Bravo—who sought to convey the symbolic significance of the country’s transformation after the scarring battles of the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s. Later, he adapted his approach to the very different sensibilities of directors Luis Buñuel and John Huston, among others. Figueroa spoke of creating una imágen méxicana. His films are an essential part of the network of appropriations, exchanges and reinterpretations that formed Mexican visual identity and visual culture in the mid-twentieth century and beyond.

The exhibition features film clips, paintings, photographs, posters and documents many of which are drawn from Figueroa’s archive and the Televisa Foundation collections. In addition, the exhibition will include works by contemporary artists and filmmakers that draw from the vast inventory of distinctly Mexican imagery associated with Figueroa’s cinematography.

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Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film was organized by the Televisa Foundation.

In Los Angeles, the exhibition is co-presented by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is generously supported by the Televisa Foundation, the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (Conaculta), and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA).

Images: Top: Gabriel Figueroa, scene from the film La perla, directed by Emilio Fernández, 1945. © Televisa Foundation. Bottom: Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Gabriel Figueroa examines the light tests from the film Sonatas, under the direction of Javier Bardem, 1959. Gabriel Figueroa Flores Archive, © Estate of Manuel Álvarez Bravo.

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