American Artists’ Congress, 1935-1941

North America artists, writers, and intellectuals were attracted to the struggle against European fascism in the 1930s.

Julio de Diego was among the artists who signed the 1935 call for the American Artists’ Congress, which convened in New York in April 1935. Born in Spain, de Diego lived in New York and Chicago, and worked in Tampa, where he designed sets and costumes for “The Wild Cat”, part of that city’s renowned Spanish language theater.

The congress met again in 1936 in New York. The 1936 congress included a number of prominent Mexican muralists: Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jose Clemente Orozco, and Roberto Berdecio. (Tamayo, less political than the others, lived in New York from 1937 to 1949.)

A Mexican delegation photo is displayed on page 237 in the New York Historical Society’s wonderful new book, Nueva York, 1613-1945, that was issued in conjunction with a recent exhibit at El Museo del Barrio New York.

The American Artists’ Congress rallied support for the loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War. This included raising funds for ambulances and medical supplies. At the same time, a number of U.S. Latinos joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigades that fought rebel troops backed by Hitler.

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