Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Announces Mexican Artist Miguel Covarrubias Exhibit

Staff | - August 21, 2014

Show runs Sept. 27, 2014 – Jan. 18, 2015

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum announced the upcoming September exhibition will feature Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias. The exhibit reveals his influential role in a global network of modernists, including Georgia O’Keeffe.

Covarrubias is best known for his lively caricatures of famous figures published in stylish New York magazines during the 1920s and 1930s. The primary purpose of this exhibition, however, is to define the breadth and significance of Covarrubias’s contribution to the history of modern art. The show will run from Sept. 27, 2014 through Jan. 18, 2015.

The artwork of Miguel Covarrubias was powered by his life-long practice of moving between modern cities and remote sites of ancient and traditional arts. Traveling widely during the 1920s and 1930s, Covarrubias moved between Mexico, New York, Europe, Africa and Bali, and later returned to Mexico during the 1940s to research and write about Tehuantepec. The exhibition presents artwork that links Covarrubias’s commercial art, scholarly publications, and studio practice as well as his friendships with Diego Rivera, Edward Weston and Georgia O’Keeffe to demonstrate the cosmopolitan modernism of his life and work.

“This exhibition traces the breadth of Covarrubias’s intellectual and artistic interests as well as his friendship with O’Keeffe, making an original contribution to our understanding of modernism and expanding our sense of O’Keeffe’s world,” said Carolyn Kastner, curator of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Covarrubias began a friendship with Georgia O’Keeffe in 1929, when both artists were guests at the Taos home of Mabel Dodge Luhan. Even though O’Keeffe was a generation older than Covarrubias, they shared many professional and social experiences.  Both were part of an international, intergenerational cluster of artists in New York – a group that formed the cornerstone of the emergent modernist aesthetic. Thus, their relationship is an enormously productive place to analyze the significance of the avant-garde circles of modernism, where their careers flourished as well as their friendship.

The Covarrubias exhibition reinforces the long-standing cultural and artistic ties between Mexico and the United States. The Consulate of Mexico in Albuquerque is supporting the exhibition.  Mexico Consul Mauricio Ibarra Ponce De Leon stated, “As part of the continued efforts to promote Mexican culture, the Consulate of Mexico in Albuquerque is honored to be able to support the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum for the exhibit of artist and painter Miguel Covarrubias, [which] shows the importance the Mexican government gives to cultural issues as a vehicle for promoting closer cooperation and understanding of the links that bind Mexicans and New Mexicans.”

The opening lecture of the exhibition will be given by Khristaan D. Villela, PhD, consulting curator for the exhibition, professor of Art History and scholar in residence at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. The lecture is titled, “Miguel Covarrubias, Artist, Archaeologist, and Curator: Modernism from Mexico City to New York and Back.” A catalogue of essays will accompany the exhibition, including an introductory essay by Kastner.  Essayists include Janet C. Berlo, who analyzes Covarrubias’s substantial scholarship on the indigenous art of North America; Villela, who describes Covarrubias’s contribution to Pre-Columbian studies;and Alicia Guzman, who discusses mural maps painted by Covarrubias for the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair, as modern hybrids of abstracted geographic features populated with a diversity of caricatures. Miguel Covarrubias, The New Yorker, July 6, 1929, page 21,Our Lady of the Lily: Georgia O'Keeffe © Condé Nast