With approximately 200 works by sixty U.S. and Mexican artists, Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945 will reveal the profound impact of Mexico’s three leading muralists—José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera—on the style, subject matter, and ideology of art in the United States made between 1925 and 1945.
Organized by curator Barbara Haskell, with Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator; Sarah Humphreville, senior curatorial assistant; and Alana Hernandez, former curatorial project assistant, Vida Americana will be on view at the Whitney from February 17 through May 17. During a special event held today in the Museum’s lobby, Museum visitors were greeted with a surprise celebration at noon, complete with free ticket giveaways and an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity.
At the event, Haskell highlighted the murals and easel paintings that will be on loan from Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and the United Kingdom for the exhibition. These include works that are rarely exhibited in the United States, including Rivera’s 1932 studies for his destroyed and infamous Rockefeller Center mural, Man at the Crossroads, on loan from the Museo Anahuacalli in Mexico City; María Izquierdo’s My Nieces (1940) and Siqueiros’s Proletarian Mother (1929), on loan from the Museo Nacional de Arte; and two paintings by Japanese-born artist Eitarō Ishigaki, on loan from Japan’s Museum of Modern Art in Wakayama.
Guerrero then discussed the Museum’s ongoing initiative to improve access for Spanish-speaking visitors.
For Vida Americana, a number of resources will be available in both English and Spanish, including all exhibition texts, the mobile guide, exhibition tours, and a Family Guide that will feature texts and in-gallery activities. The guide is available free of charge to all families who visit the Whitney as well as to elementary school-aged students who visit the Museum. The Museum also announced programs being organized by its education department on the occasion of the exhibition, including a full-day symposium featuring artists, curators, educators, and scholars presenting new perspectives on the role of Mexican Muralism in the United States. Other programming highlights include Tours for Immigrant Families, Teen Night, and a Community Partnership Mural Project with The Door and artist Sophia Dawson. Additional details and the full lineup of programs can be viewed below.
By presenting the art of the Mexican muralists alongside that of their American contemporaries, Vida Americana reveals the influence of Mexican art, particularly on those looking for inspiration and models beyond European modernism and the School of Paris, during the interwar period. Works by both well-known and underrecognized American artists will be exhibited, including those by Thomas Hart Benton, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Marion Greenwood, William Gropper, Philip Guston, Eitarō Ishigaki, Jacob Lawrence, Harold Lehman, Fletcher Martin, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Thelma Johnson Streat, Charles White, and Hale Woodruff. In addition to Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros, other key Mexican artists included in the exhibition include Miguel Covarrubias, María Izquierdo, Frida Kahlo, Mardonio Magaña, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, and Rufino Tamayo. Tickets for Vida Americana are now available at whitney.org.
COMMUNITY AND ACCESS PROGRAMS
Tours for Immigrant Families, Feb 1, March 7, April 4, May 2, 2020
Bring your family to the Museum for a free tour and fun activities! We welcome immigrant families who speak any language and level of English. Spanish-speaking staff will be on the tour and two-trip MetroCards will be provided.
Immigrant Justice Night, April 29, 2020, 6–8 pm
Jointly organized with community partners, the Whitney will host its third Immigrant Justice Night. Join the museum for an evening of resource-sharing and artmaking dedicated to immigrant and undocumented communities. Youth, families, teachers, and community members are invited to connect with NYC immigrant justice organizations, participate in a “know your rights” training and explore Vida Americana. Spanish and English language guided tours of the exhibition will be offered throughout the evening.
Community Partnership Mural Project with The Door and Sophia Dawson. March 2020
In partnership with the Museum, The Door will work with muralist and Whitney ISP alumna Sophia Dawson to create a mural. Since 1972, The Door has helped a diverse and rapidly growing population of disconnected youth in New York City gain the tools they need to become successful in school, work, and life. Working with Dawson, the mural will be painted over four sessions by students at The Door. Participants will also receive a guided tour of Vida Americana and engage in conversations about the importance of public art.
EDUCATION, TEEN AND FAMILY PROGRAMS
Free Exhibitions Tours
- English: daily, 12 pm; Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, 3 pm
- En español: Fridays, 2 pm and 8:30 pm; Saturdays, 1 pm
Free tours of the Whitney’s collection and current exhibitions are offered each day. No reservations are necessary.
Educator Preview, February 27, 2020, 4:00–6:00 pm
NYC teachers are invited to the Museum for free tours and to learn how to integrate exhibitions such as Vida Americana into their curriculum. Educators will have the opportunity to preregister online at whitney.org.
Family Day, March 21, 2020, 10:30 am–3:00 pm
Families are invited to take part in mural-making, bilingual tours, a hands-on workshop, and other fun ways to engage with the exhibition. The event will be offered in English and Spanish and is free with Museum admission. No registration required.
Open Studio, Every Saturday and Sunday
The Museum offers drop-in artmaking workshops for families with kids of all ages. Open Studio texts will be presented in both English and Spanish during the run of Vida Americana. No registration required. Free of charge with Museum admission.
Guided School Visits
Always offered free of charge to NYC public schools, these inquiry-based tours will offer K-12 students the opportunities to learn about the works on view in Vida Americana and at the Museum. Educators facilitate discussions and activities that help students to discover, observe, question, and understand the artistic process. Tours are tailored to meet the curricular needs of participating school groups, and can be offered in English or in Spanish. Guided Visit + Studio programs, where students participate in a gallery tour and an artmaking workshop in the Whitney’s classroom, are also available.
Vida Americana Teacher Guide
Designed for educators to use as a resource in the classroom before and after a Museum visit, the Teacher Guide provides information about selected artists and works of art, topics for classroom discussion, writing activities, and art projects that introduce the key ideas of the Vida Americana exhibition. The guide is available as a free download on the Whitney’s website.
Vida Americana Teen Night, March 6, 2020, 4:00–6:00 pm
NYC teens are invited to celebrate the work of artists in Vida Americana at this large-scale, free event. Mural-making, gallery activities, tours, music, refreshments, and more will be offered. No registration is required.
Open Studio for Teens, Fridays, 4:00–6:00 pm
Drop-in artmaking workshops for NYC teens over the course of the spring will focus on artworks and artists included in current Whitney exhibitions and collection shows, including Vida Americana. These programs are offered free of charge and all materials and supplies, as well as snacks and MetroCards are provided for participating students. No registration required.
Latinx: A conversation with Ed Morales, March 13, 2020, 6:30 pm
Author of Latinx: The New Force in Politics and Culture (Verso, 2018), Ed Morales will speak about the rich and diverse history of Latinx culture in the United States in conjunction with the exhibition Vida Americana. This conversation is the first of the three events that comprise a programming series focused on new scholarship about Latinx art and artists that will be presented throughout 2020. Tickets: $10, $8 members, students, seniors.
Vida Americana: A symposium, Friday, April 3, 2020, 12–6 pm
This day-long symposium will feature scholars, curators, and artists presenting new perspectives on the role of Mexican Muralism in the United States. Additional details to be announced. Free with advance registration.
Ethics of Looking, Fridays at 8 pm and Saturdays at 5 pm
These drop-in programs provide Museum visitors with an opportunity to discuss the complexities and challenges of works on view. Artworks in Vida Americana take as their subject matter many difficult themes in American history, including racialized violence, colonialism, and racial and ethnic stereotypes. After seeing the exhibition, Museum visitors are invited to explore its themes and ideas in depth by engaging with a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow in an open discussion about the important issues raised. As a platform for art that engages with pressing social issues, the Whitney Museum is committed to fostering dialogue and debate in these ongoing weekly sessions. Free with Museum admission.
For program updates and complete ticketing details, please visit whitney.org/vidaamericana.