The 1920s through 1950s was a time of vibrant artistic connection between Louisiana and Mexico. During this period, a series of acclaimed Mexican art exhibitions brought the 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. Louisianan artists such as William Spratling, Caroline Durieux, Alberta Kinsey, and Conrad A. Albrizio began traveling to Mexico to learn from Mexican artists such as Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Ruffino Tamayo, and Carlos Orozco Romero, with whom they became friends, colleagues, and frequent collaborators.
In spring of 2015, the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, LA presented Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas, the first major museum exhibition to explore this artistic exchange. The exhibition featured more than 80 works, drawn from the LSU Museum of Art’s collection, by Diego Rivera and Caroline Durieux, as well as paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, furniture, and decorative objects by artists like David Alfaro Siqueiros, Boyd Cruise, Elizabeth Catlett, and William Spratling borrowed from public and private collections, including the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Latin American Library at Tulane University. The richly illustrated bilingual exhibition catalog tells the story of a decades-long dialogue between Mexican and Louisianan artists that has generated artistic affinities that persist into the present.
Katie A. Pfohl is curator of modern and contemporary art at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Pfohl holds a PhD from Harvard University in history of art and architecture and received her B.A. in American studies from Northwestern University. A graduate of the Whitney Museum of Art Independent Study Program in New York, Pfohl has worked at the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.