From September 15th until April 1st, 2018, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art  (LACMA) will host an exhibit entitled, “Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985.”  The show includes four themes: Spanish Colonial Inspiration, Pre-Hispanic Revivals, Folk Art and Craft Traditions, and Modernism. The works featured within these pillars nod to Mexico’s and California’s interwoven history—both the individual artists who came from each place, and their inevitable influences on each other.

A Tribute to Wallace Neff

Known as the pioneer of “California Style” architecture, Wallace Neff was heavily inspired by both Spanish and Mediterranean style homes. His mansions line the streets of wealthy Southern California neighborhoods like Chapman Woods, Hancock Park, and Beverly Hills. In 2001, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston reportedly paid $13.5 million for one of his Beverly Hills masterpieces.

Pedro Friedeberg Hand Chair

In 1936, Pedro Friedeberg was born in Italy to German-Jewish parents. The family fled to Mexico at the beginning of the Second World War. At a very young age, Pedro developed an interest in art. He’d ultimately go on to create the famous “Hand Chair,” a sculpture that is meant to be sat upon— with a palm as the seat, and fingers as back and arm rests. His designs are surrealist and sarcastic, inspired by both his brief upbringing in Florence, and Spanish-Mexican artists like Remedios Varo.

Xavier Viramontes’s “Boycott Grapes” Poster

After serving in the Vietnam War, Xavier Viramontes enrolled in classes at the San Francisco Art Institute, honing his painting skills, and developing a passion for printmaking. You can see one of his more famous works, “Boycott Grapes,” in this exhibition. The poster was produced for the United Farmworkers Union, during a 1973 grape picking boycott. Its borrows imagery and patterns from the Aztecs, and nods to the importance of Mexican farm laborers contributions to California’s particular brand of rich, vibrant multiculturalism.


Photo Credit: Francisco Artigas and Fernando Luna, House at 131 Rocas, Jardines del Pedregal, Mexico City, 1966, photograph by Fernando and Roberto Luna, 1966, courtesy of Fernando Luna, © Roberto and Fernando Luna