Preferred Citation: Karlstrom, Paul J., editor On the Edge of America: California Modernist Art, 1900-1950. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.


Mexican Art and Los Angeles, 1920-1940

I am grateful to the Smithsonian Institution and to the Archives of American Art for granting me a Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship for 1990-91, which afforded me the opportunity to conduct the research for this essay. I would also like to express my appreciation to Paul Karlstrom and Barbara Bishop of the Archives West Coast Regional Center, Huntington Library, for their guidance and assistance.

My thanks also to Michael Marcellino, editor of Latin American Art magazine, who published a preliminary version of this essay in the fall of 1990, and to Louis Stern, who invited me to collaborate in his important retrospective of the works of Alfredo Ramos Martínez in 1991.

Unless otherwise noted, all documentation for this essay is to be found in the Walter Pach papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, and in the Ferdinand Perret papers on the history of art in California, also at the Archives.

1. Because Mexican twentieth-century art incorporates the country's indigenous past into its aesthetic, there has been a tendency to exclude Mexican and Latin American art in general from the modernist discourse, given that modernism has been viewed exclusively as a European and North American movement. Yet these premises of the ''other" in themselves offer new possibilities for exploring the modernist aesthetic. Moreover, the term "modernism" was first used in Latin America during the final two decades of the nineteenth century. The first important twentieth-century literary movement in Latin America is "Modernismo," its origin marked by the 1888 publication of the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío's book Azul .

2. The contributions of the major Mexican muralists have been thoroughly covered in Laurence P. Hurlburt, The Mexican Muralists in the United States (Albuquerque: University, of New Mexico Press, 1989).

3. William C. Agee, "Walter Pach and Modernism: A Sampler from New York, Paris, and Mexico City," Archives of American Art Journal 28, no. 3 (1988): 2-10; and Nancy Malloy, Discovering Modernism: Selections from the Walter Pach Papers , exh. cat., February 15-April 13, 1990, New York Regional Center, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

4. Walter Pach papers, roll 532, frames 682-85.

5. Walter Pach papers, roll 4219, frames 82-87, letter dated June 9, 1943.

6. Alson Clarke and Garrett Hale made painting trips to Mexico in 1922, 1925, and 1931. They showed the works they produced on these trips in local galleries according to Alson Clarke, Jr., interviewed by Margarita Nieto, September 6, 1990.

7. See Mildred Constantine, Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life (New York: Rizzoli, 1983). A more recent and thorough source is Elena Poniatowska's Tinísima (Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1992).

8. Ramos Martínez was the subject of a major exhibition in October 1991 at the Louis Stern Gallery, Beverly Hills, California. The illustrated catalogue accompanying the show included essays by Jean Stern, María Ramos Bolster, and Margarita Nieto. Because of this show, a major retrospective of Ramos's work was organized in 1992 at the Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico, D.F.; its catalogue included essays by Louis Stern, Margarita Nieto, and others. See also Margarita Nieto, "Art without Borders: Alfredo Ramos Martínez," Antiques and Fine Arts (November-December 1991).

9. Jean Charlot's contributions to the art history of Mexico have been covered in part in Mexico en la obra de Jean Charlot , a catalogue for an exhibition at the Colegio de San Ildefonso (Mexico, D.F.), spring 1994.


Preferred Citation: Karlstrom, Paul J., editor On the Edge of America: California Modernist Art, 1900-1950. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.