The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This document is a handwritten entry from the journal of Carlos Almaraz that begins with a discussion of his uneasiness about the idea of Conceptual art and disconnection from the everyday life of most people. He also recounts doubts regarding his ability to argue with other “intellectuals” regarding art, which were eased by reading a book on the life of Diego Rivera and his artistic ideology. Almaraz concludes with his decision to return to figurative art, mural painting, and his resolution to nurture his desire to paint “non-political” subject matter.
Even though Carlos Almaraz (1941–1989) was never a widely published author, he was a dedicated journal writer. This “Record Book” journal entry was made by Carlos Almaraz in April 1973, after he had returned to Los Angeles. Though ostensibly about Conceptual art, the entry offers a valuable account of Almaraz’s struggle with mainstream critics and artists, in this case, the performance artist John White and their defense of an art that he believed did not have anything to do with the working class. It also shows the beginning of a change in Almaraz’s artistic ideology, in his decision to approach a gallery and to create “non-political” art. Almaraz was one of the founding members of Los Four, an artist collective that also included Beto de la Rocha, Judithe Hernandez, Frank Romero, and Gilbert Lujan (Magu). They were one of the most influential groups within Chicano art history and the first to have an exhibition at a major museum—[at] the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in 1974. In the 1980s, Almaraz was able to attain mainstream recognition and gallery success, which continued beyond his death.