Mediating Mexico: Winold Reiss and the Transcultural Dimension of “Harlem” in the 1920s

Frank Mehring,

Radboud University Nijmegen

Abstract

Through the mediating element of travel, European and Latin American visual artists contributed to turning the physical space of Harlem into a central metaphor of modernity. Artists such as the German immigrant Winold Reiss, the Mexican caricaturist Miguel Covarrubias, and the African American student of Reiss, Aaron Douglas, played an integral part in Alain Locke’s idea of an international approach to African American culture. [1] By turning to concepts of space as cultural space (Winfried Fluck), processes of mediation, and the role of cultural mobilizers (Stephen Greenblatt), the essay traces how Winold Reiss’ Mexican experience shaped the visual narrative of the Harlem Renaissance.

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