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    The wall : image and boundary, Chicano art in the 1970s / Max Benavídez and Kate Vozoff

    Mexican Art of the 1970s : Images of Displacement. -- Nashville, TN : Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies, Vanderbilt University, 1984.       



    p. 45-67
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Benavidez, Max  and Vozoff, Kate. "The wall : image and boundary, Chicano art in the 1970s." In Mexican art of the 1970s : images of displacement, 45-67. Nashville, TN : Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies, Vanderbilt University, 1984.     
    Vozoff, Kate
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Max Benavidez and Kate Vozoff provide a brief overview of the history of Mexicans in Los Angeles, emphasizing the ways in which Mexican-Americans negotiate a complex confluence of multiple cultures. The authors argue that to convey these conditions, Chicano artists developed a visual language based on several historical antecedents. The work of Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, the subcultural style of pachucos [Mexican-American urban youth, also known as zoot suit], and graffiti all combined cultural expression with resistance to the mainstream. Drawing upon these influences, artists working in conjunction with the Chicano movement began creating community murals linked to activism. These works took advantage of visual means to engage struggles for social justice, provide historical information, and convey Chicano heritage and culture. The authors also note the emergence of artist collectives in the early-1970s and discuss the divergent approaches of two Los Angeles based groups: Asco and Los Four. Benavídez and Vozoff argue that by 1975, a number of factors, including increasing disillusionment, interpersonal conflict, and limited inclusion of Chicano art in mainstream institutions, led many artists away from artwork based on the activism and protest of the Chicano Movement.


This essay by Max Benavídez and Kate Vozoff is a proper historical overview of the artistic influences on Chicano art in Los Angeles. However, it is not just a chronological survey, beginning with its backgropund (e.g., Siqueiros’ murals of the 1930s, the pachuco style of the 40s), but it is also a succinct account of the similarities and differences between two seminal art groups of the 1970s: Los Four and Asco. In their description and assessment of Chicano art, the authors use the voices of different Los Angeles artists to substantiate their claim that the Chicano Movement ended in the late-1970s. Benavídez and Vozoff provide valuable insight on the dilemma facing Chicano artists in the early-1980s as multiculturalism was taking hold nationally. However, while acknowledging the participation of two Chicanas (Judithe Hernandez from Los Four and Patssi Valdez from Asco) the authors honored the voice of the male artists in their use of quotations.

Tere Romo
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Courtesy of Kate Vozoff, Co-Author, Los Angeles, CA.
Courtesy of Max Benavides, South Pasadena, CA.
Center for Latin American Studies, Venderbilt University, Nashville, TN