History of Art and Architecture

James Oles Lecture

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - 2:30pm to 3:45pm

Frick Fine Arts Building, Room 202

Mexico's Forgotten Muralist: The Fragmented History of Lola Alvarez Bravo's Photomurals of the 1950s

In the 1950s, Mexican photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo (1903-1993) designed at least fifteen photomurals for interior spaces in major building projects sponsored by the federal government and private industry, in collaboration with leading architects. This extraordinary achievement revealed a mastery of photomontage and situated Álvarez Bravo as the most prolific and accomplished woman muralist of her generation. While Álvarez Bravo seems to have placed little importance on her photomural practice late in her life, in the 1950s she proudly situated her work in the context of “integración plástica,” the much-theorized integration of visual and structural elements in post-war Mexican architecture. This talk places her photomurals within the history of photomontage and particularly the international boom in this quintessentially modern medium launched by El Lissitsky in the late 1920s. 

James Oles, Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Curator of Latin American art at Wellesley College, is the author of Art and Architecture in Mexico (Thames & Hudson, 2013). He has curated and published catalogues for dozens of exhibitions in Mexico, the US, and beyond, from South of the Border: Mexico in the American Imagination (Yale University Art Gallery, 1993) to Art_Latin_America: Against the Survey (Davis Museum, Wellesley College, 2019). 

This lecture is generously sponsored by the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Please contact Jennifer Josten (jej40@pitt.edu) with any questions. 

Photo credit: Lola Alvarez Bravo, Computadora (Computer)1, 1954.