In the 1960s, activist Chicano artists forged a remarkable history of printmaking that remains vital today. Many artists came of age during the civil rights, labor, anti-war, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements and channeled the period’s social activism into assertive aesthetic statements that announced a new political and cultural consciousness among people of Mexican descent in the United States. ¡Printing the Revolution! explores the rise of Chicano graphics within these early social movements and the ways in which Chicanx artists since then have advanced innovative printmaking practices attuned to social justice.
More than reflecting the need for social change, the works in this exhibition project and revise notions of Chicanx identity, spur political activism and school viewers in new understandings of U.S. and international history. By employing diverse visual and artistic modes from satire, to portraiture, appropriation, conceptualism, and politicized pop, the artists in this exhibition build an enduring and inventive graphic tradition that has yet to be fully integrated into the history of U.S. printmaking.
This exhibition is the first to unite historic civil rights era prints alongside works by contemporary printmakers, including several that embrace expanded graphics that exist beyond the paper substrate. While the dominant mode of printmaking among Chicanx artists remains screen-printing, this exhibition features works in a wide range of techniques and presentation strategies, from installation art, to public interventions, augmented reality and shareable graphics that circulate in the digital realm. The exhibition also is the first to consider how Chicanx mentors, print centers and networks nurtured other artists, including several who drew inspiration from the example of Chicanx printmaking
Since its opening in 1954, the McNay has consistently collected and presented artwork by women. The Museum’s founder, Marion Koogler McNay, was an artist and a supporter of the arts–and we strive to honor her legacy.
Womanish: Audacious, Courageous, Willful Art features artwork by women acquired by the McNay from 2010 to the present. In 2010, the McNay presented the landmark exhibition Neither Model Nor Muse, which celebrated artwork by women from all of the Museum’s major collecting areas. Envisioned as a second chapter to this exhibition, Womanish features over 70 artists and demonstrates the McNay’s ongoing commitment to women.
The title of this exhibition is inspired by Alice Walker’s essay Womanist, in which she defines womanish as, “Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior.” By highlighting the wide variety of ways women express themselves through art, this exhibition aims to celebrate the term “womanish,” which is all too often considered derogatory.
The artwork represented spans over 90 years and includes portraiture, abstraction, landscapes, and more. This exhibition includes regionally, nationally, and internationally known artists, who exemplify a range of lived experiences as well as many sources of inspiration.
Since the mid-20th century, California has been a beacon of both inventive design and political activism. Exploring the intersection of these realms, this exhibition uses case studies from LACMA’s collection to demonstrate how designers and artists championed civil rights, opposed wars and injustice, and pressed for change. Skilled communicators by profession, they distilled complex issues into eye-catching images, often appropriating commercial art techniques—from newspaper broadsheets to screen prints to digital downloads—to distribute powerful imagery despite limited resources. Others led workshops and formed printing collectives, providing movements with new methods for disseminating their messages. Their works express both outrage and optimism, going beyond protest to envision alternative ways of living.
Key figures and organizations including Emory Douglas of the Black Panther Party, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville of the Woman’s Building, Self Help Graphics & Art, and street artist Shepard Fairey achieved widespread acclaim and notoriety, galvanizing political movements and empowering marginalized communities. This presentation features generous loans from The Center for the Study of Political Graphics in addition to select objects from private collectors.
OPENING RECEPTION: MARCH 25, 2023, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Image credit: Rupert García, Libertad para los Prisoneros Políticas! (Liberty for Political Prisoners!), 1971, screenprint, made for the National Committee to Free Angela Davis, 26 × 20 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Allison and Larry Berg and Suzanne and Ric Kayne through the 2017 Decorative Arts and Design Acquisition Committee (DA²), © Rupert García, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA