Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas

May 5-September 6, 2015

This is the first major museum exhibition to explore the captivating artistic exchange between Louisiana and Mexico from the 1920s through 1950s, a period of vibrant cultural and artistic connections between the two regions. The exhibition tells the story of a decades-long dialogue between Mexican and Louisianan artists that critically shaped the art of both countries, resulting in artistic affinities that continue to connect Louisiana and Mexico today.

Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas features more than 80 works by both Mexican and Louisianan artists who were part of this captivating international cultural exchange and will be accompanied by a richly illustrated bilingual exhibition catalogue designed by the LSU School of Art. The exhibition features artwork drawn from the LSU Museum of Art’s collection of works by Diego Rivera and Caroline Durieux, as well as artworks by other prominent artists like David Alfaro Siqueiros, Boyd Cruise, and Elizabeth Catlett borrowed from public and private collections including the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Latin American Library at Tulane University. In the exhibition, paintings, watercolors, drawings and prints by these artists will be supplemented with sculpture, furniture, decorative arts, and ephemera such as pamphlets and postcards which help tell the story of  Mexico in New Orleans—and New Orleans in Mexico.

“This exhibition provides an important opportunity for the LSU Museum of Art to tell the story of the artistic exchange between New Orleans and Mexico, and represents the Museum’s strong commitment to exploring the cultural developments of our region, and connecting the art and culture of Louisiana to the wider world,” says LSU Museum of Art interim executive director Kristin Sosnowsky.

During the 1920s and 1930s, a series of acclaimed Mexican art exhibitions brought the art and culture of modern Mexico to Louisiana. By 1928, the New Orleans Times-Picayune had proclaimed Mexican artist Diego Rivera “the greatest painter on the North American continent” and encouraged Louisiana artists to take counsel from modern Mexican art. By the late 1920s, Louisianan artists like William Spratling, Caroline Durieux, Alberta Kinsey, and Conrad A. Albrizio began travelling to Mexico to learn from Mexican artists like Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Ruffino Tamayo, and Carlos Orozco Romero, with whom they became friends, colleagues, and frequent collaborators.

“This exhibition celebrates the powerful artistic alliance between Mexico and Louisiana which forever changed the art of both places. So much of what we think of today as distinctively Louisiana art in fact came out of the connection between Louisiana and Mexico during this period, and the same is true for Mexican art. This exhibition offers new insight into the international origins of Louisiana’s distinctive art and culture, and showcases the enduring connections between the two regions,” says LSU Museum of Art curator Dr. Katie A. Pfohl.

Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas is curated by Dr. Katie A. Pfohl, and organized by the LSU Museum of Art. This exhibition was made possible through generous support from Susan and Frederic Billings, Linda and Robert Bowsher, the Consulate General of Mexico, Susanna Atkins McCarthy, Don Fuson, and Sandy Arst.