EXHIBITION ON VIEW
Luces y Sombras: Fourteen Travelers in Mexico, Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
The twentieth century saw numerous internationally acclaimed photographers travel through Mexico and document the country from their unique perspectives. Their status, both as outsiders and as artists, gave them a distinctive view on this subject and allowed for a wide range of imagery to emerge. Some of these artists were drawn to Mexico for its revolutionary socio-political ideas. Some 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. The work was largely humanist in nature, often taking up social causes and the struggle for human rights. Others traveled there on vacation and were inspired to incorporate that experience into their art. Some were drawn to the country’s ancient history and spirituality or the desire to document sacred monuments in their natural setting.
The core of this exhibition is Paul Strand’s Mexican Portfolio, 1967, based on photographs taken in 1933.The twenty hand-pulled photo-gravures comprising the portfolio represent the most extensive photographic exploration of Mexico included in this exhibition. Strand became politically active in the 1930s, supporting social reform and labor causes. Aware of the revolutionary ideas at work in Mexico at that 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, some repeatedly, before and after Strand. A few, such as Wayne Miller, Harry Callahan and Danny Lyon, followed in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and made their own humanistic, documentary-style observations of the country. Others, including Aaron Siskind, Sally Gall and Wijnanda Deroo, found and were inspired by their most sought-after subjects in a new place: for Siskind, Abstract Expressionism in Mexico’s walls; for Gall, a deep spiritual poetry in the land; and for Deroo, loaded interiors offering clues into the culture. Brett Weston, Mario Algaze and Kenro Izu photographed landscapes depicting local architecture, both sacred and mundane.