‘America Tropical’ Transformed Once More
Eighty years ago, civic leaders gathered outdoors on the second floor of an Olvera Street social club to dedicate a remarkable painting.
“América Tropical,” by visiting Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, was being unveiled on an outside wall of Italian Hall. Dean Cornwell, a prominent local illustrator who had just finished a sugary mural cycle about California history for the rotunda of the Central Library, said a few congratulatory words. Arthur Millier, The Times’ art critic, would soon praise the politically trenchant painting for being “stern, strong, tragic.”
History gets whitewashed every day, but Siqueiros’ “América Tropical” was infamously painted over within eight years of its 1932 completion. The obliteration transformed it from a blistering emblem of social justice into a gnawing symbol of suppression.
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Image Credit: Christina House, LA Times