Santos y Pecadores: Cinematic Drama in the Mexican Portfolios of Paul Strand and Leopoldo Méndez, an innovative installation of photographs, prints and film, opens Feb. 16 at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College. Featuring the work of pioneering modernist photographer Paul Strand, and major Mexican graphic artist Leopoldo Méndez, the exhibition will examine how the juncture of visual arts and cinema addressed a critical point in Mexican art, society and revolutionary politics.
The linkages between cinema and the visual arts are extensive, ranging from movie posters and film stills to the role of artists as set designers and cameramen. This was particularly true in Mexico in the 1930s and 1940s. Santos y Pecadores (Saints and Sinners) features two important portfolios of works produced in Mexico with connections to films of that period.
Paul Strand’s Mexican Portfolio (1940) consists of 20 photogravures depicting individuals, buildings and religious figures based on photographs taken in 1932-33. These idealized images of rural Mexico both resemble and contrast with scenes in Redes (The Wave, 1934), the groundbreaking film Strand made in collaboration with Emilio Gomez Muriel and Academy Award-winning director Fred Zinnemann. Featuring oppressed fishermen in coastal Veracruz, the film is a radical blend of documentary and drama.
Leopoldo Méndez’s Rio Escondido portfolio (1948) includes 10 linocuts made expressly for the title sequence of a film by Emilio Fernández, one of the leading directors from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Working from the script, Méndez created powerful images that embody the political and moral messages of Fernández’s patriotic melodrama.
These two complex series will be presented in their entirety, together with related images by Edward Weston, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Raúl Anguiano, Mariana Yampolsky and others, drawn from the Davis Museum’s rich holdings of Mexican works on paper. An installation including video screens showing both films, Santos y Pecadores will propose new readings of these classic Mexican images from the perspective of the history and the aesthetics of cinema. An accompanying "Imagining Mexico and the Border in Film" series will screen four iconic films from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.
Paul Strand (1890-1976) is one of the great photographers of the 20th century and a pioneer of the American modernist movement. As a youth, he studied under Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture School. After World War II, Strand traveled around the world – from New England to Ghana to France to the Outer Hebrides – to photograph, and in the process created a dynamic and significant body of work.
Leopoldo Méndez (1902-1969) was a Mexican printmaker, painter and illustrator. Deeply involved in the politics of his country, Méndez helped form and participated in several activist artistic groups, including the Estridentistas in the 1920s and the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR) and the Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP) in the 1930s. To promote Mexican art and artists, Méndez also founded and directed the Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana, a highly respected art book publishing company. After exhibiting his work for the first time in the United States in 1930, he held several exhibitions abroad, and in 1939 he received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation.
OPENING RECEPTION – WELCOME BACK TO THE DAVIS
WEDNESDAY | FEB 16 | 6-8 PM | DAVIS MUSEUM LOBBY AND GALLERIES
Join us to celebrate Santos y Pecadores: Cinematic Drama in the Mexican Portfolios of Paul Strand and Leopoldo Méndez, and the concurrent exhibitions Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens and Fred Sandback: Sculpture and Works on Paper.
LECTURE - SOCIAL PROTEST IN PHOTOGRAPHY AND PRINTMAKING
THURSDAY | APRIL 14 | 11:10 AM | JEWETT ARS CENTER ROOM 450
Professor and Adjunct Curator James Oles discusses social protest in photography and printmaking as part of his course Art 237, Mexican Art and Architecture from the Conquest to Today, followed by a tour of the exhibition Santos y Pecadores: Cinematic Drama in the Mexican Portfolios of Paul Strand and Leopoldo Méndez.
FILM SERIES –“IMAGINING MEXICO AND THE BORDER IN FILM”
MONDAYS | FEB 21, FEB 28, MARCH 7, MARCH 28 | 7PM | JEWETT AUDITORIUM
Four Monday evening events featuring an informative introduction, a film screening and a lively discussion.
Feb 21 - Time in the Sun (1949) - A version by Marie Seton of avant-garde Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein’s unfinished Que Viva México! (1931), a meditation on Mexican culture and politics from the ancient Maya to the Revolution.
Feb 28 - The Wave (1934) - Directed by Fred Zinnemann and Emilio Gómez Muriel, and sponsored by the Mexican government, this tale of class struggle set in the fishing village of Alvarado on the Gulf of Veracruz, features captivating images Paul Strand and a score by Silvestre Revueltas.
March 7 - Río Escondido (1948) - This melodrama, directed by Emilio Fernández, is an emblematic production of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema; it features a schoolteacher’s heroic attempts to bring education and health to a remote viillage.
March 28 - Salt of the Earth (1954) - Directed by Herbert J. Biberman during the height of the McCarthy era, and denounced as subversive on its release, Salt of the Earth chronicles a labor strike by Mexican- American and Anglo miners in New Mexico.
DAVIS MUSEUM HOURS AND INFORMATION
Winter/Spring Semester Museum Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 11 am-5 pm, Wednesday until 8 pm, and Sunday, noon-4pm. Closed Mondays and holidays.
Admission is free and open to the public.
Location: Wellesley College, 106 Central St., Wellesley, Mass.
Parking: Free and available in the lot behind the museum. Additional parking is available in the Davis Parking Facility.
Tours: Led by student tour guides. Free. Call 781-283-3382.
Accessible: The Davis, Collins Café and Collins Cinema are wheelchair accessible and wheelchairs are available for use in the Museum without charge. Special needs may be accommodated by contacting Director of Disability Services Jim Wice at 781-283-2434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE DAVIS
One of the oldest and most acclaimed academic fine arts museums in the United States, the Davis Museum and Cultural Center is a vital force in the intellectual, pedagogical and social life of Wellesley College. It seeks to create an environment that cultivates visual literacy, inspires new ideas and fosters involvement with the arts both within the College and the larger community.
ABOUT WELLESLEY COLLEGE & THE ARTS
Wellesley College has been collecting and exhibiting visual art since 1889 — making the College one of the first liberal arts institutions to establish a teaching collection. The Wellesley arts curriculum and its highly acclaimed Davis Museum are integral and irreplaceable components of the College’s liberal arts education. Wellesley also offers many outstanding exhibitions, performances, concerts and lectures, most of which are free of charge and open to the public.
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,400 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.