Orozco′s American Epic

Myth, History, and the Melancholy of Race

Orozco′s American Epic
Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: 100 color illustrations Published: January 2020

Author: Mary K. Coffey

Subjects
Art and Visual Culture > Art History, History > U.S. History, Latin American Studies

Between 1932 and 1934, José Clemente Orozco painted the twenty-four panel mural cycle entitled The Epic of American Civilization in Dartmouth College's Baker-Berry Library. An artifact of Orozco's migration from Mexico to the United States, the Epic represents a turning point in his career, standing as the only fresco in which he explores both US-American and Mexican narratives of national history, progress, and identity. While his title invokes the heroic epic form, the mural indicts history as complicit in colonial violence. It questions the claims of Manifest Destiny in the United States and the Mexican desire to mend the wounds of conquest in pursuit of a postcolonial national project. In Orozco's American Epic Mary K. Coffey places Orozco in the context of his contemporaries, such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, and demonstrates the Epic's power as a melancholic critique of official indigenism, industrial progress, and Marxist messianism. In the process, Coffey finds within Orozco's work a call for justice that resonates with contemporary debates about race, immigration, borders, and nationality.

Praise

Orozco's American Epic is original in its intent, theoretically sophisticated, and clearly elaborated. Coffey does not settle for easy interpretations of Orozco's mural, but rather dwells purposively on the difficult questions it raises. An outstanding book.” — Claire F. Fox, author of Making Art Panamerican: Cultural Policy and the Cold War


“This is a spectacular piece of scholarship. Any study of Mexican mural painting in the context of Mexico is challenging enough, but adding the extra level of context as a work on United States soil would defeat a less ambitious and less courageous scholar than Mary K. Coffey. Any scholar who can speak with great authority on the theories of Benjamin, Freud, and Butler on the same page and then apply those insights to the work of a Mexican painter is a scholar of almost shocking sophistication and intellectual conviction. This book needed to be written, and Coffey has delivered in glorious fashion.” — Leonard Folgarait, coeditor of Mexican Muralism: A Critical History


Buy


Availability: Not in Stock
Price: $28.95
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mary K. Coffey is Associate Professor of Art History at Dartmouth College. She is the author of How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State, also published by Duke University Press, and coeditor of Modern Art in Africa, Asia, and Latin America: An Introduction to Global Modernisms.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Table of Contents Forthcoming
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0298-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0178-2
Top