Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film

Art of the Americas Building, Level 2
September 22, 2013–February 2, 2014

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 mexicana. 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.

"Stick'em Up..." (Slanguage Bandito)
Mario Ybarra Jr. & Juan Capistran
2003
Still from the film UN DIA DE VIDA
Gabriel Figueroa
1950
Still from the film EL AMOR TIENE CARA DE MUJER
Ángel Corona Villa
1973, printed 2007
Alfonso Mejía as Pedro in LOS OLVIDADOS
Gabriel Figueroa
1950

Gabriel Figueroa

This clip sequence features the cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa.

© Fundación Televisa

Gabriel Figueroa: Impressions and Intersections

Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film, focusing on Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, is a prismatic exhibition that offers a slightly different experience each time you view it. Selections from Figueroa’s films play on a series of large screens, and as you walk through the exhibition, the imagery constantly changes. Each sequence of film clips is organized around a theme, such as landscape, revolution, and the metropolis, and forms the centerpiece for an exhibition-within-an-exhibition of linked imagery—paintings by related artists, film and production stills, art photographs, and ephemera such as letters and posters…

The Telenovela in the Art Museum

It is perhaps in bad form to pick favorites in any exhibition. Like children, we sometimes tell ourselves, each work is special and unique in its own way. That said, I seem not to be able to help myself when it comes to the current show Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film, which I had the great pleasure to work on with LACMA curators Britt Salvesen and Rita Gonzalez and the energetic team from Fundación Televisa, led by curator Alfonso Morales…

Video