September 4, 1998
San Francisco The Mexican Museum unveils over 65 Mexican Masterpieces from the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection, an exclusive Bay Area showcase of one of the largest and most important collections of twentieth century Mexican modernist art in the United States. Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (:ACMA) to highlight its recent acquisition of work from the Lewin Collection, the exhibition is on display in San Francisco at The Mexican Museum, September 11, 1998 through January 3, 1999.
Bernard Lewin traveled to Mexico for the first time in 1958 a trip that spurred a passion for modern Mexican art that has lasted a lifetime. He visited Diego Rivera's studio and collected works on paper from the artist's 1930s sketchbooks, as well as several oils. In 1963, with his wife Edith, Lewin met and began a long relationship with Rufino Tamayo; in the course of their future visits to Mexico, the Lewins also befriended and acquired works from Rafael Coronel, Miguel Covarrubias, Carlos Mérida and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The collection eventually comprised more than 2,000 paintings, sculptures and works on paper by the most important Mexican modernists of this century. The exhibition includes significant works by these artists, as well as José Clemente Orozco and Jose Luis Cuevas.
The Lewin collection contains the most comprehensive holdings of work by Tamayo and Mérida in any museum, spanning the entire careers of both. It includes a survey of 27 of Tamayo's easel paintings, representing every phase of the Oaxaca-born artist's long career, from the minimal verism he used initially to the reduced palette he utilized for Desnuda blanca (1943) and Niña con flores amarillas (1946).
The collection prominently features Siqueiros, Orozco and Riveraconsidered by many to be the most renowned artists of the Mexican mural movement. Included are 23 drawings, watercolors, and sketches by Rivera, as well as his large 1931 oil portrait of a poet friend named John Dunbar and a portrait of Kahlo the only known easel painting Rivera fashioned of his wife. In addition, three large mural studies by Rivera provide insight to the artist's working methods. Other highlights include several drawings and paintings from the 1960s by Siqueiros, whose work remained intensively and directly tied to his political ideals.
Works included by contemporary artists Jose Luis Cuevas (best known for his works on paper and prints produced in print shops around the world) and Rafael Coronel (primarily a painter) share an emphasis on draftsmanship, the influences of old masters such as Goya and Rembrandt, and purposeful theatricality.
Mexican Masterpieces from the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection was initially presented at LACMA in Fall 1997. For this exclusive Bay Area presentation, Tere Romo, Curator for The Mexican Museum, complements the exhibition with hitherto unseen, recent acquisitions of work by Mexican masters from the Museum's permanent collection. Of the Lewin Collection, Romo says: "This is a premiere collection which brings deserved recognition to the great body of work by Mexican modernists from 1950 forward. It is important that so many historically and artistically invaluable works have been secured for future generations to view."
The Lewins will be present as The Mexican Museum unveils Mexican Masterpieces from the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection on Friday, September 11, 1998 from 7-10 pm. Food and drink will be provided by Café Marimba with live, 1950s style bolero music from Juanita Newland-Ulloa and Picante Trio, a recent vocal winner at the Festival de la Canción Latino-americana.
The Mexican Museum is currently located at Fort Mason Center, Building D, between Laguna Street and Marina Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94123. Gallery hours: Wednesday through Friday, 12 noon - 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 11 am-5 pm. Admission: $3 adults; $2 students and seniors; free to members and children 10 and under. The Museum is free to the public the first Wednesday of each month from noon to 7 pm.