A Dialogue of Design: ‘Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985’

Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915-1985 is a one of the exhibitions sponsored by the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Initiative, which aims to bridge the gap between LA and Latino culture by showing how they have influenced each other. It is a celebration of all things design, in a cultural dialogue between the regions of Southern California and Mexico. This exhibition builds on a similar one at LACMA in 2011, called “California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way,” by introducing a wider perspective from including Latino and Hispanic artist as well as Californian designers.

The result is one of the first attempts to explore the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico in architectural design, by examining the main art & design movements that impacted these regions in the 20th Century. The exhibition takes you on a journey through 20th Century California, looking at historic folk arts and crafts, Pre-Hispanic Revival furniture and Spanish Colonial architecture, before finally arriving at Modernism and Antimodernism, when the two cultures really collided, to create something completely new.

Over the course of two hundred and fifty design objects, including architectural drawings and photographs, you gain a real appreciation for the sense of place created by Californian and Mexican design. The geographical locale of the two cultures brings together disparate cultural concerns and themes, and even disparate mediums — ranging from metalwork and murals to graphic design. With an array of furniture and ceramics from famous designers of the period, such as Charles and Ray Eames, and Luis Barragán.

Don’t miss highlights, such as Antonio Peñafiel’s Neo-Zapotec piano from 1895, the famous Scarlotti rug made by Cynthia Sargent in 1969, and The drawings of the Chemosphere House in the Hollywood Hills by John Lautner, as well as a miniscule, but influential, necklace that belonged to Frida Kahlo, made from a startling assemblage of gold, jade and amethyst, which was worn by Paulette Goddard, a well-known actress.

Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985” is on at Resnick Pavilion in LACMA from the Sept. 17, 2017 to April 1, 2018.