Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa

Gabriel Figueroa was instrumental in the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, and his influential career is celebrated  by El Museo del Barrio. Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa features film clips, photography, prints, and posters, as well as works from the artists who helped inform his vision and took inspiration from it.

Gabriel Figueroa a genius of cinematic photography
Pedro Admendariz and Maria Felix in La Escondida.
Dolores del Rio in Maria Candelaria


Born in Mexico City in 1907,  Figueroa studied painting and photography before finding his way to film. After an early project as one of several camera operators for a 1932 Howard Hawks film, Figueroa won a scholarship to study with renowned American cinematographer Gregg Toland, whose revolutionary deep focus and lighting techniques would heavily influence Figueroa’s work.

While he inherited Toland’s techniques and the dramatic chiaroscuro effects of German Expressionism, Figueroa also adapted these aesthetics to the Mexican scene. By combining mysterious, high-contrast interiors with awe-inspiring landscape compositions, Figueroa brought to the world a dramatically new and beautiful picture of rural Mexico.

He shot 235 movies over fifty years and became not only the leading cinematographer of Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema (1930–1960) but a world-renowned craftsman as well, winning numerous cinematography awards and working for such canonical directors as Emilio Fernández, John Ford, John Huston, and Luis Buñuel.

Maria Felix en Maclovia 1955