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Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945
Feb 17, 2020–Jan 31, 2021

Mexico underwent a radical cultural transformation at the end of its Revolution in 1920. A new relationship between art and the public was established, giving rise to art that spoke directly to the people about social justice and national life. The model galvanized artists in the United States who were seeking to break free of European aesthetic domination to create publicly significant and accessible native art. Numerous American artists traveled to Mexico, and the leading Mexican muralists—José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—spent extended periods of time in the United States, executing murals, paintings, and prints; exhibiting their work; and interacting with local artists. With nearly 200 works by over sixty Mexican and American artists, this exhibition reorients art history by revealing the profound impact the Mexican muralists had on their counterparts in the United States during this period and the ways in which their example inspired American artists both to create epic narratives about American history and everyday life and to use their art to protest economic, social, and racial injustices.

This exhibition is organized by Barbara Haskell, curator, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant.

The lead sponsor for Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 is the Jerome L. Greene Foundation

This exhibition is also sponsored by Citi; Citibanamex, its Mexican affiliate; and Delta and Aeromexico.

and  

Major support is provided by the Judy Hart Angelo Exhibition Fund, the Barbara Haskell American Fellows Legacy Fund, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Whitney’s National Committee.

Generous support is provided by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Ted and Mary Jo Shen.

Significant support is provided by the Alturas Foundation, Paul Arnhold, Wes Gordon and the Arnhold Foundation, the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation, Blair and Cheryl Effron, Garrett Moran and Mary Penniman Moran, and Laurie M. Tisch.

Additional support is provided by Tony Bechara; Estrellita and Daniel Brodsky; Jeanne Donovan Fisher; the Garcia Family Foundation; the Judy and Stanley Katz Family Foundation; and the Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc.

Curatorial research and travel were funded by the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation.

 

INBAL

Mexican Cultural Institute New York Relaciones Exteriores

New York magazine is the exclusive media sponsor.


En Español

Nos complace ofrecer los siguientes recursos y programas en español para Vida Americana: una guía portátil, traducciones de todos los videos relacionados a la exposición, visitas guiadas gratuitas de la exposición, y visitas guiadas gratuitas para las escuelas públicas de la ciudad de Nueva York. Todos los textos descriptivos de la exposición estarán en inglés y español en el Museo.


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Romantic Nationalism and the Mexican Revolution

A painting of a person holding many flowers in front of three kneeling people.

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Orozco on the Coasts

A photo of a mural depicting a tortured-looking man.

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Siqueiros in Los Angeles

A painting depicting a woman surrounded by three small children.

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Epic Histories

A painting depicting a crowd in chains and three individuals standing pointing at skyscrapers in the distance.

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Rivera and the New Deal

A large mural depicting a factory full of people working.

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Art as Political Activism

A painting depicting a line of people with picket signs.

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Abelardo L. Rodriguez Market

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Siqueiros and the Experimental Workshop

A painting of a man with outstretched hands and a rock for a face.

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Artists

Ramón Alva Guadarrama
Lola Álvarez Bravo
Luis Arenal
Belle Baranceanu
Carleton Beals
Henry Bernstein
Emil Bisttram
Lucienne Bloch
Anita Brenner
Stuart Chase
Aaron Douglas
Sergei Eisenstein
Jesús Escobedo
Ford Motor Company
Eitarō Ishigaki
María Izquierdo
Everett Gee Jackson
Frida Kahlo
Harold Lehman
Michael Lenson
Mardonio Magaña
Leopoldo Méndez
Carlos Mérida
Tina Modotti
Roberto Montenegro
Emilio Gómez Muriel
Hideo Benjamin Noda
Alfredo Ramos Martínez
Diego Rivera
Henrietta Shore
David Alfaro Siqueiros
Thelma Johnson Streat
Rufino Tamayo


Events

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Audio Guides

Painting of a woman with a basket of calla lilies

“[Rivera] was fascinated by the ways in which man and machinery meet, and the ways in which they change the world together.” —Mark Castro

Hear from artists, scholars, and the curators of Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 speaking about works on view.


Installation Photography


Shop the Exhibition

Visit the online shop to buy Whitney catalogues, exhibition-inspired gifts, and more.

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In the News

"‘Vida Americana’ Is the Most Relevant Show of the 21st Century" —Vulture 

"The show is stupendous, and complicated, and lands right on time." —The New York Times

"[A]fter 'Vida Americana' the history of American art doesn’t remain quite the same." The Wall Street Journal

"[S]hines a light on the Mexican artists whose politically charged, populist work shaped some of the most significant American artists of the 20th century" Time

"The exhibition is a major statement from a museum devoted to the history of American art." —artnet News

"Beyond the wall: a golden period of exchange between Mexican and US artists is revisited" The Art Newspaper

"Vida Americana reveals the seismic impact of Mexican art" —artdaily

"[A] gorgeous guide to understanding the importance of social realist muralism and the power of public art" Juxtapoz

"[A]n eye-opening new exhibition" —CNN

"This show . . . added nuance and shading, making a fascinating historical episode seem more remarkable and unlikely than ever."—The Washington Post


Sunrise

Sunset

A 30-second online art project:
LaTurbo Avedon, Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror

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