American Scenes/Americas Seen features works spanning the 1930s and 1940s by celebrated muralists and abstract artists including Diego Rivera, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Carlos Mérida, Alice Trumbull Mason, Doris Rosenthal, and others.
During the thirties and forties, many artists reacted against the abstract styles favored by the first generation of American moderns, dismissing non-objective art as “un-American.” Favoring representational modes, artists on both sides of the border pursued variations on several period styles variously called in the United States as the American Scene, Regionalism, and Social Realism.
In Mexico, the Mural Movement shaped by the utopian fervor of the Revolution was initially a state-sponsored project to bring public art to the masses, translating nationalist ideologies into visual form. Some celebrated muralists like Diego Rivera also created easel paintings of idealized peasants marketed to foreign tourists, and Alfredo Ramos Martinez’s heroic paintings of indigenous peoples were in great demand during his sojourn in California in the late thirties.
Many US artists, however, continued to pursue modern styles, and in 1936 a group of them founded the Abstract Artists of America to exhibit together and to educate the public. Alice Trumbull Mason, a founder of the AAA, declared “I was completely joyful not to be governed by representing things anymore.” Nevertheless, the majority of Mexican artists continued the Muralists’ emphasis on figuration and social themes during this period. Though initially active in the Mural Movement and the Taller de Gráfica Popular (The Peoples Print Workshop), Carlos Mérida was one of the first artists in Mexico to experiment with abstraction. He paved the way for others to explore abstract styles in the ensuing decades.
$21 — Adults
$18 — Senior Citizens (Ages 65+)
$15 — Students (with ID)
$11 — Children (Ages 6-17)
All exhibitions and installations are included with General Admission.
This special installation is open to the public during voluntary-donation, pay-what-you-wish hours from 3–9 pm each Wednesday, from 6–10 pm on the first Friday of each month, and from noon–5 pm on the second Sunday of each month.
Miklos Suba, American Landscape, 1938. Oil on canvas. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Lorenz Anderman.
Philip C. Curtis, My Studio, 1935. Oil on board. Gift of Terese Greene Sterling.