In the years between the two world wars, the enormous vogue of "things Mexican" reached its peak. Along with the popular appeal of its folkloric and pictorialist traditions, Mexican culture played a significant role in the formation of modernism in the United States. Mexico and American Modernism analyzes the complex social, intellectual, and artistic ramifications of interactions between avant-garde American artists and Mexico during this critical period.
In this insightful book, Ellen G. Landau looks beyond the well-known European influences on modernism. Instead, she probes the lesser-known yet powerful connections to Mexico and Mexican art that can be seen in the work of four acclaimed mid-century American artists: Philip Guston (1913-1980), Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Landau details how these artists' relationships with the Mexican muralists, expatriate Surrealists, and leftist political activists of the 1930s and 1940s affected the direction of their art. Her analysis of this aesthetic cross-fertilization provides an important new framework for understanding the emergence of Abstract Expressionism and the New York School as a whole.
Ellen G. Landau is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emerita of the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University and a leading expert on Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. She specializes in 20th-century American and European art and theory.