Covarrubias

Overview

At the center of an artistic milieu as vital and exciting as the Left Bank of Paris or Greenwich Village, Rosa and Miguel Covarrubias knew almost everyone in the limelight of the 1930s and 1940s—Langston Hughes, Carl Van Vechten, John Huston, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo, to name just a few. As fascinating themselves as any of their friends, the couple together fostered a renaissance of interest in the history and traditional arts of Mexico's indigenous peoples, while amassing an extraordinary collection of art ...

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Overview

At the center of an artistic milieu as vital and exciting as the Left Bank of Paris or Greenwich Village, Rosa and Miguel Covarrubias knew almost everyone in the limelight of the 1930s and 1940s—Langston Hughes, Carl Van Vechten, John Huston, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo, to name just a few. As fascinating themselves as any of their friends, the couple together fostered a renaissance of interest in the history and traditional arts of Mexico's indigenous peoples, while amassing an extraordinary collection of art that ranged from pre-Hispanic Olmec and Aztec sculptures to the work of Diego Rivera.

Written by a long-time friend of Rosa, this book presents a sparkling account of the life and times of Rosa and Miguel. Adriana Williams begins with Miguel's birth in 1904 and follows the brilliant early flowering of his artistic career as a renowned caricaturist for Vanity Fair and the New Yorker magazines, his meeting and marriage with Rosa at the height of her New York dancing career, and their many years of professional collaboration on projects ranging from dance to anthropology to painting and art collecting to the development of museums to preserve Mexico's pre-Columbian heritage. Interviewing as many of their friends as possible, Williams fills her narrative with reminiscences that illuminate Miguel's multifaceted talents, Rosa's crucial collaboration in many of his projects, and their often tempestuous relationship.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1956), the precociously gifted Mexican caricaturist and artist later turned anthropologist, author and ballet director, remains comparatively unfamiliar in the U.S. But he was a darling of the New York smart set during the 1920s and '30s, when his caricatures were featured in Vanity Fair and the New Yorker and he became a protg of Carl van Vechten and Alfred Knopf, who published his books. Williams's biography is thus important as the first full-scale portrait. In the course of painstakingly tracing Covarrubias's life and his association with such luminaries as Diego Rivera, Nelson Rockefeller and Carlos Chavez, Williams reveals the long-term cultural and social links between Mexican and North American elites, at a time when such links are being renewed. As granddaughter of former Mexican president Plutarco Calles and a friend of Covarrubias's American wife, Rosa Cowen, the author is well qualified to cover this material, though the book suffers from some lack of focus. Moving forward chronologically, with little interpretation, analysis or shaping, Williams depends heavily on the reminiscences of eyewitnesses to events in the lives of the Covarrubiases; and only when such events are interesting is the book interesting-as for instance, in the account of the scandalous dissolution of the couple's marriage. The illustrations would be more effective if they corresponded more closely with the text. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Miguel Covarrubias (1904-57), cari-caturist for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and one of the most multifaceted 20th-century Mexican artists, and wife Rosa Rolanda Covarrubias (d. 1970), an acclaimed New York dancer, are the subjects of this long-overdue biography. The Covarrubiases collaborated on projects that included dance, ethnology, painting, art collecting, and the development of museums to preserve Mexico's pre-Columbian heritage. In the 1930s and 1940s, their home near Mexico City became a well-known address to native and foreign artists of all disciplines. This highly readable and scrupulously researched narrative captures the brilliance of both artists and their cultural milieu. Besides a 1984 exhibition at the Smithsonian, English-language research on the Covarrubiases has been scarce. (Readers may also be interested in the Centro Cultural Arte Contemporneo Museum of Mexico's comprehensive and beautiful Spanish-language catalog on the Covarrubiases, published in 1987.) Recommended for most collections.-Russell T. Clement, Brigham Young Univ. Lib., Provo, Ut.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292743526
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Pages: 338
  • Sales rank: 1,465,417
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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