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LACMA presents a major U.S. exhibition highlighting the prolific career of Gabriel Figueroa
Attributed to Angel Corona, Macario (1959). Still of Angel Lucero as Death and Ignacio Lopez Tarso as Macario. Cacahuamilpa, Guerrero, Mexico. ©Televisa Foundation.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences present Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film. The exhibition celebrates the achievements and legacy of Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (1907-1997), a profoundly influential figure who built an enduring image of Mexico through his visual style. Recognized as one of the most important cinematographers of the twentieth century, Figueroa collaborated with a vibrant community of international painters, photographers, and printmakers—including Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and Manuel Álvarez Bravo—as well as leading directors such as Emilio Fernández, John Ford, Luis Buñuel, and John Huston. Deemed “the fourth muralist” by Diego Rivera, Figueroa forged a vision of Mexican identity and culture that resonated powerfully with Mexican and international audiences. Under the Mexican Sky features approximately 300 objects, including film sequences, paintings, photographs, prints, drawings, posters, and archival documents. Additional film, video, and photographic works by contemporary artists (including Rodrigo García, Melanie Smith and Rafael Ortega, Gonzalo Lebrija, and Juan Capistran and Mario Ybarra Jr.) reflect on Figueroa’s legacy.

Under the Mexican Sky is organized by the Televisa Foundation and is co-presented by LACMA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Academy). The Televisa Foundation oversees the Gabriel Figueroa archive and many elements of the exhibition are drawn from this comprehensive collection. Curated by Alfonso Morales, Curator of Televisa Foundation, the exhibition has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and France.

“Gabriel Figueroa was a key participant in Mexico’s cinematic, artistic, and literary circles throughout his long career. Under the Mexican Sky is the first time the Televisa Foundation’s Figueroa project will be presented in the United States.” comments Alfonso Morales.

"Under the Mexican Sky is a perfect example of how LACMA, an encyclopedic museum with an international scope, approaches the intersection of art and film," said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. "Gabriel Figueroa had a tremendous impact on the visual culture of Mexico. We are pleased to co-present this exhibition with The Academy and are grateful to the Televisa Foundation for their support."

“We are delighted to once again partner with LACMA in shining the spotlight on the life and career of a visionary filmmaker,” said Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO. “This exhibition invites visitors to discover Figueroa’s iconic works as well as his influence on global cinema. It also provides a glimpse of what’s to come in 2017 when we open the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures next to the LACMA campus.”

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.

“Gabriel Figueroa’s cinematic work contributed to the construction of Mexican visual identity and is an important part of film and art history,” said Rita Gonzalez, exhibition co-curator. Britt Salvesen adds, “Figueroa’s portrayal of pivotal cultural subjects, ranging from Mexican revolutionary soldiers to landscape motifs, created a visual lexicon for Mexico that has influenced today’s generation of artists and filmmakers.”

As an exhibition focusing on the art of cinematography, Under the Mexican Sky emphasizes the collaborative nature of movie-making and examines how a filmic vision intersects with other artistic media.

Gabriel Figueroa’s prolific career in cinema spanned more than fifty years during which time he worked as a studio portrait photographer, photojournalist, still photographer, lighting artist, camera operator, and cinematographer. His body of work exhibits his technical skill, careful handling of composition and lighting, and affinity for the aesthetics of artists. Distinguished directors such as John Ford, Luis Buñuel, and John Huston sought Figueroa to work with them, and many of his films were recognized at the premier international film festivals.

In total, Figueroa’s filmography consists of more than 200 films, including María Candelaria (1943), which won a prize for cinematography at the Cannes Film Festival; Macario (1960), the first Mexican film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film in a Foreign Language; The Night of the Iguana (1964), which garnered an Academy Award nomination for best cinematography; Two Mules for Sister Sara (1969); Kelly’s Heroes (1969); and Under the Volcano (1983). Gabriel Figueroa’s achievements were recognized by colleagues in both Mexico and the United States: he was nominated to be an active member of The Academy in 1968; became president of the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas de México in 1972; and received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematographers in 1995. Figueroa died in Mexico City in 1997 at the age of 90.



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