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  • ICAA Record ID
    Bellas artes, arquitectura, arqueología y arquitecturas mexicanas / Tepoztecaconetzin Calquetzani
    p. 488 - 492
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Calquetzani, Tepoztecaconetzin. “Bellas artes, arquitectura, arqueología y arquitecturas mexicanas.” In La crítica de arte en México en el s. XXI, edited by Ida Rodríguez Prampolini, 488–492. México D. F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1997.

In “Bellas Artes, Arquitectura, Arqueología y Arquitecturas Mexicanas," published in 1899 in the journal El Arte y la Ciencia, Tepoztecaconetzin Calquetzani (a pseudonym for an anonymous Mexican author) argues against the use of decorative elements of Pre-Columbian art and architecture to adorn modern Mexican buildings. Calquetzani recommends that artifacts of Pre-Columbian cultures be displayed in museums, but not incorporated into the decoration of buildings attempting to form a new style of uniquely Mexican architecture. According to Calquetzani, architecture should represent the country’s modernity, and references to its Pre-Columbian past should be restricted to the occasional historical monument. Ancient Mexican architecture should not be revived, according to author, because the lifestyle and needs of the country have changed rendering these ancient architectural elements irrelevant to modern life. Calquetzani cites the 1889 Mexican pavilion at the Paris Universal Exposition as an example of the inadvisable use of pre-Hispanic inspired decorative elements in architecture. He claims that this adornment contrasted with the display of modernity and advancement in the pavilions of other countries at the Exposition, causing Mexico to appear atavistic.


Tepoztecaconetzin Calquetzani was a pseudonym used by an anonymous author (possibly either Nicolás Mariscal, the director of the journal El Arte y la Ciencia, or architect Francisco Rodriguez) to publish “Bellas Artes, Arquitectura, Arqueología y Arquitecturas Mexicanas" in the journal El Arte y la Ciencia. The article was a response to the architectural proposals of Luis Salazar, an engineer who had entered a Pre-Columbian inspired design for the 1889 Mexican pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Paris, and who ultimately helped implement the winning design by Antonio Peñafiel and Antonio de Anza, which Calquetzani criticizes in his article. This structure, which was made of steel, combined modern technology with adornment that referenced Mexico’s heritage instead of its future. Between 1895 and 1899, Luis Salazar published various essays proposing the creation of a modern architectural style that incorporated pre-Hispanic elements. Salazar presented his paper, “La Arqueología y la Arquitectura,” at the Congreso de Americanistas in 1895.The debates over the relevance of incorporating aspects of Mexico’s indigenous past into otherwise modern architecture in construction and materials, reflect the tension in Mexico at the time between tradition and modernity, and between local culture and the influx of European cosmopolitanism.

Molly Moog; ICAA Team
International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH, Houston, USA
Reproduced with permission of Ida Rodriguez Prampolini, Veracruz, Mexico