LACMA/Academy to Honor Cinematographer Figueroa

Renowned Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa will be celebrated with the LACMA/Academy exhibition, Under the Mexican Sky (Sept. 22-Feb. 2, 2014).

Figueroa, who was mentored by Gregg Toland, did a stint on ¡Qué viva México! with Sergei Eisenstein, Viva Villa! with Howard Hawks, Los Olvidados, The Exterminating Angel and five other films with Luis Buñuel, The Fugitive with John Ford, and Night of the Iguana and Under the Volcano with John Huston.  And he made 20 films with Emilio Fernández.

Figueroa also collaborated with painters, photographers, and printmakers, including Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and Manuel Álvarez Bravo.

Under the Mexican Sky will feature around 300 objects, including film sequences, paintings, photographs, prints, drawings, posters, and archival documents. The exhibition also marks the first time that the Televisa Foundation’s Figueroa project will be presented in the U.S. Curated by Televisa’s Alfonso Morales, the exhibition has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and France.

At LACMA, the exhibition is co-curated by Britt Salvesen, curator of the Wallis Annenberg Photography department and the Prints and Drawings department, and Rita Gonzalez, associate curator of Contemporary Art, and will incorporate more works of art and an accompanying film series.

Under the Mexican Sky is organized thematically with an emphasis on how Figueroa crafted Mexican visual history. The first part of the exhibition explores Figueroa’s filmic output on the Mexican Revolution. On the big screen, the revolution of the 1910s was the topic of newsreels, propaganda campaigns, and fictional recreations of legendary personalities and heroic battles. Figueroa’s films of the 1930s and 1940s, including La Adelita (1937), and Río Escondido (1940), helped shape collective memory of the conflict. His depictions of heroic revolutionaries in stunning landscapes aimed to build national pride and construct empowered iconography for the new Mexico.

The rapid urbanization that took place in Mexico between 1930 and 1970 produced new cinematic narratives, brought to life by Figueroa’s skill in manipulating light and shadow, as in Los Olvidados, which launched his 14-year collaboration with Buñuel in 1950. By this time, the Mexican film industry had changed significantly, as did Figueroa’s style, now encompassing color and mass-market comedic and melodramatic themes.

In conjunction with the exhibition, LACMA and The Academy will co-present a range of film programs that explore the work of Figueroa. A full schedule is available here: Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Events, Tech, Trailers

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