U.S. Photographers and Mexico, 1914-1947

By Kirking, Clayton C. | The Historian, Winter 1994 | Go to article overview

U.S. Photographers and Mexico, 1914-1947


Kirking, Clayton C., The Historian


The exhibition, "South of the Border: Mexico in the American Imagination, 1914-1947," focuses on why U.S. artists were attracted to Mexico, who they were, and what they produced while there. Paintings by Marsden Hartley, Milton Avery, and Henrietta Shore are complemented by works of Diego Rivera and Miguel Covarrubias, among others. The exhibition is arranged thematically to illustrate the images formed of Mexico's revolution, antiquities, folk art, mysticism, social reform, tourism, and the Good Neighbor Policy, with Mexico depicted variously as a threat to U.S. interests, a tourist escape, an alternative to individualist capitalism, an ally against fascism, and an arena of the Cold War.

Positive and negative stereotypes of Mexican culture and society also originated with U.S. photographers. Besides such renowned figures as Edward Weston, there were lesser known U.S. freelancers whose clients included advertising agencies and postcard distributors, photojournalists whose coverage of Mexico was highly paid for by newsmagazines and wire services, and artists who consciously identified their portrayal of Mexico with emerging schools of photography. …

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