Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film
From the early 1930s through the early 1980s, the Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (1907–1997) helped forge an evocative and enduring image of Mexico. Among the most important cinematographers of the so-called Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, Figueroa worked with leading directors from Mexico, the United States and Europe, traversing a wide range of genres while maintaining his distinctive and vivid visual style. In the 1930s, Figueroa was part of a vibrant community of artists in many media, including Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Edward Weston and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, who sought to convey the country’s transformation following the trauma of the Mexican Revolution. Later, he adapted his approach to the very different sensibilities of directors Luis Buñuel and John Huston, among others. Figueroa spoke of creating una imágen méxicana. His films are an essential part of the network of appropriations, exchanges and reinterpretations that formed Mexican visual identity and visual culture in the mid-twentieth century and beyond.
The exhibition features film clips, paintings, photographs, posters and documents, many of which are drawn from Figueroa's archive and the Televisa Foundation collections. In addition, the exhibition includes work by contemporary artists and filmmakers that draw from the vast inventory of distinctly Mexican imagery associated with Figueroa’s cinematography.
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Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film was organized by the Televisa Foundation.
In Los Angeles, the exhibition is co-presented by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is generously supported by the Televisa Foundation, the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (Conaculta), and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA).
Images: Top: Gabriel Figueroa, scene from the film La perla, directed by Emilio Fernández, 1945. © Televisa Foundation. Bottom: Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Gabriel Figueroa examines the light tests from the film Sonatas, under the direction of Javier Bardem, 1959. Gabriel Figueroa Flores Archive, © Estate of Manuel Álvarez Bravo.
This clip sequence features the cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa.
© Fundación Televisa
To take a still from one of Gabriel Figueroa’s films is to capture an image that is markedly photographic. Indeed, Figueroa’s aesthetic was created without coincidence; the filmmaker was in dialogue and surrounded himself with the great modernist painters and photographers of Mexico who worked in the early half of the 20th century. In the exhibition Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film, on view in the Art of the Americas Building, curators Rita Gonzalez and Britt Salvesen aimed to present Figueroa in the context of Mexican art at large…