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Museum of Latin American Art to present rare show of Siqueiros landscape paintings

April 26, 2010 |  4:56 am

Artwork The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach will present a rare exhibition of landscape paintings by David Alfaro Siqueiros, the Mexican artist known for his creation of murals that make bold aesthetic and political statements.

"Siqueiros Paisajista / Siqueiros: Landscape Painter," which will run Sept. 12 to Jan. 30, was organized by the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City and curated by its director, Itala Schmelz, in association with MOLAA.

The exhibition will feature about half of the 150 or so landscapes that Siqueiros painted, as well as about two dozen drawings.

"This is the first show of its kind," says Cynthia MacMullin, MOLAA's senior curator. "We all know Siqueiros as a muralist, but this is the first time he is profiled as a landscape and easel painter."

Landscapes often are lyrical or pastoral, but Siqueiros created visions of futuristic cities, allegorical places and scenes that MacMullin describes as "war-torn and destroyed, and aerial views as if from an airplane in a war dropping bombs overseas. Landscapes don't always provoke thought. These do."

Many of the works reflect the artist's interest in experimenting with technique and materials such as the industrial products he discovered while spending time in the United States.

MacMullin says Siqueiros started out painting murals in the '20s, went off to war and then, "when he was under house arrest for political reasons in Taxco in the '30s, he began to make some of his important easel works."

The exhibit will include early landscapes from the 1930s up through ones he produced just before his death at 77 in 1974. 

Dr. Alvar Carrillo Gil, the Carrillo Gil's founder, owned one of the largest collections of Siqueiros' easel paintings. Eight of the most significant landscapes in the show are drawn from his museum. The other works -- borrowed from more than 20 museums and private collections -- mostly come from Mexico. MacMullin coordinated the gathering of pieces within the United States.

The exhibition will be part of the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles' Mexico 2010 celebration.

After it ends its run in Long Beach, "Siqueiros Paisajista / Siqueiros: Landscape Painter" is scheduled to move to one of Mexico's national museums next spring.

-- Karen Wada

"Antenas estratosféricas" (1956) by David Alfaro Siqueiros. Credit: Colección Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, INBA