The years from 1945 to 1985 are often identified as the moment in which Los Angeles established itself as a leading cultural center in America. However, this conception of its history entirely excludes the very controversial presence of the Mexican muralists, as well as the work of other artists who were influenced by them and responded to their ideas. It is likewise often thought that Los Angeles' Mexican culture arrived full formed from outside it, when in fact that culture originated within the city--it was in Los Angeles and Southern California that José Vasconcelos, Ricardo Flores Magón, Octavio Paz and other intellectuals developed the iconography of modern Mexico, while Anglos and Chicanos were developing their own. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Clemente Orozco, Alfredo Ramos Martínez and Jean Charlot made some of their earliest murals in Los Angeles, influencing the Mexican, Mexican-American and Chicano artists of the 1970s and 80s. MEX/LA: Mexican Modernism(s) in Los Angeles 1930-1985 focuses on the construction of different notions of "Mexicanidad" within modernist and contemporary art created in Los Angeles. From the Olvera Street mural by Siqueiros, to the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and the Disney silver-screen productions, to the revitalization of the street mural, up to the performance art of Guillermo Gómez-Peña, MEX/LA explores the bi-national and hybrid forms of artistic practices, popular culture and mass-media arts that have so uniquely shaped Los Angeles' cultural panorama.
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