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Covarrubias: A Bridge Among Cultures

Maria Margarita Lopez
María Margarita López

Popular Vanity Fair caricaturist, Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957) explored humanity through his drawings, paintings and writing. Through his work, Americans would come to discover and appreciate cultures unlike their own during the rise of mass media culture in the 1920s. His work promoted cultural appreciation at a time that was rife with pejorative images of African Americans, Asians and Latinos. He followed his passion -- exploring and recognizing the beauty and integrity found in all people. Each "discovery" enriched his work, which he shared with Americans through numerous illustrations for popular literature and through the pages of Vanity Fair. His contributions toward greater cultural understanding made an impact on movements as diverse as the Harlem Renaissance and Mexican modern dance.

The one-hour documentary, Covarrubias: A Bridge Among Cultures rediscovers Covarrubias' work through three of his books: Negro Drawings (1927) Island of Bali (1937) and Mexico South: The Isthmus of Tehuantepec (1946.) Covarrubias' life and work are seen in context of the historical periods, artistic movements and personal relationships that impacted his work and vice verse. Covarrubias himself defied categorization. He shifted from painting to academia, striving to preserve art and cultures that were rapidly disappearing during the first half of the 20th century. Family, friends and scholars recount his struggles and triumphs.