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    Rectificaciones sobre las artes plásticas en México / David Alfaro Siqueiros
    Documentación sobre el arte mexicano. -- Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1974.
    p. 37-52
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Siqueiros, David Alfaro. “Rectificaciones sobre las artes plásticas en México.” In Documentación sobre el arte mexicano, 37–52. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1974.

In "Rectificaciones sobre las artes plásticas en México," Mexican Muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros states his opinions on a variety of polemical issues in Mexican and Latin American artistic practice. He proposes a reform of the system of arts education in Mexico whereby the Escuela de Artes Plásticas would be converted into a museum, and its pupils would be apprenticed to practicing Mexican painters whose works would then be purchased by the government and displayed in the museum. In Siqueiros’s opinion, rather than fine art drawing, technical drawing should be taught in primary and secondary schools. He also critiques the recent glorification of popular art, “Mexico curious” art, spontaneous art, and the art of children and amateurs. Siqueiros defines popular art as the art of conquered indigenous peoples who are no longer able to produce works of the same splendor as their previous autonomous creations. He writes that indigenous art should be a subject of study, not its bastardized cousin, popular art. According to Siqueiros, “Mexican curious” art is art that adopts a disguise of Mexican identity to appeal to tourists, reflecting the incursion into Mexico of North American capitalism. He cautions against the incorporation of the pictorial into figurative and even abstract art, and against “snobbism,” or art that references European modernism and is a useless intellectual exercise. He explains that in muralism the primary concern of the painter should be the integration of his painting into the architectural space. Siqueiros criticizes the esteem with which sketches and unfinished works are often held, claiming that artworks should be fully considered in all aspects. He discusses art criticism, suggesting that only a select few of profound intelligence can produce truly insightful art criticism. Finally, Siqueiros suggests that the concept of “pure art,” or art that remains autonomous from the struggle between the social classes, cannot exist before the creation of a communist state. He explains that artists who avoid advocating for the cause of the proletariat in the interest of preserving the individuality and formal values of their art, merely produce bourgeois art. Therefore, the alternative is to synthesize the artist’s individual style with the representation of the cause of the masses.


Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) founded the modern school of Mexican muralism, along with Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. Siqueiros was devoted to political activism since his youth, and incorporated his Marxist ideology into his paintings. Siqueiros studied in Europe after the Mexican Revolution and upon his return, painted the walls of the National Preparatory School, along with Rivera and Orozco. In 1923 Siqueiros helped establish the Syndicate of Revolutionary Mexican Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers, which published the paper El Machete. His collaboration with labor unions and his communist activism resulted in periods of exile in the United States and the Soviet Union. Siqueiros was one of the most politically active artists in Mexican history. In 1913 he formed part of a student activist committee to remove the military dictator Victoriano Huerta from office, and he also fought in the Mexican Revolution for four years, eventually becoming a captain. In 1938, he fought for the Republican army in Spain, and in 1940 upon his return to Mexico, Siqueiros, who was a fervent Stalinist, led an unsuccessful attack on the house of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City. He painted many murals for government buildings and public spaces; some of his most renowned works include the mural: Burial of a Worker (1923) in a stairwell of the Colegio Chico in the National Preparatory School, Tropical America (1932) on Olvera Street in Los Angeles, the painting Echo of a Scream (1937), the murals at the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (1938–40),the mural The People to the University, the University to the People at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (1952), the mural Del porfirismo a la Revolución (1957) at Chapultepec Castle, and the murals at the Hospital de la Raza in Mexico City. His work is characterized by its political subject matter and also by the characteristic elongation of bodily forms. "Rectificaciones sobre las artes plásticas en México" reflects Siqueiros’s reformist tendencies, as well as his artistic allegiance to the communist cause.

Molly Moog
International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH, Houston, USA
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City.
Reproduced with the permission of Fondo de Cultura Economica, Mexico City, Mexico