In 1932, the Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros was commissioned to paint an idealized tropical scene on a second-story exterior wall on Olvera Street, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Siqueiros instead created América Tropical, a monumental mural depicting an overgrown jungle with a crucified Indian peasant surmounted by an American eagle, at which revolutionary soldiers aim their rifles. This imagery was immediately controversial; within the decade the entire mural was whitewashed. For the next twenty years, it remained under layers of white paint, neglected and all but forgotten. In 1988, the Getty Conservation Institute began a collaboration with the City of Los Angeles to conserve América Tropical. This led to a study of the environment around the mural and the design of a protective shelter and viewing platform for the public. Eighty years after its creation, América Tropical was re-unveiled to the public. Today, visitors to El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument can learn more about the history, controversy, and modern techniques in mural conservation at the America Tropical Interpretive Center, located on historic Olvera Street.
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Research Article| February 01 2020
The Return of América Tropical
California History (2020) 97 (1): 50–54.
Christopher P. Espinosa; The Return of América Tropical. California History 1 February 2020; 97 (1): 50–54. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ch.2020.97.1.50
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