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 is a newspaper review of “El arte para la victoria y la pintura mexicana moderna,” the lecture given by David Alfaro Siqueiros at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes de Lima in March 1943. The painter and political activist informed his audience that he needed to explain “the true meaning of the modern Mexican painting movement,” which he described as “the natural consequence of the country’s struggles to improve the lot of the Mexican people.” According to Siqueiros, “pre-revolutionary” art was “a servile copy of European art,” and Mexican painters “were out of touch with their country.” The turmoil of the revolution seeped into the Escuela de Bellas Artes and prompted a pedagogical reform in terms of both a “practical school” and “open air” teaching. The muralist claimed that this process contained the seeds of “the transformation of the bohemian artist into the citizen or democratic artist” and the birth of a “genuinely Mexican art.” After sporadic uprisings, the Congreso de Artistas Soldados (the Soldier Artists Conference held in Guadalajara) finally presented its manifesto as a movement inspired by the spirit of the revolution. The painter also noted the major role played by Mexican mural painting as part of the function of art education and as a vehicle for propaganda, as it sought to communicate “the dominant political ideas, as leaders have done throughout the world’s history.” The primary goal was to be aware of the internationalist scope of the country’s commitment to this pictorial undertaking.
In late March 1943, the influential Mexican painter and muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) visited Lima as part of a trip to several Latin American capital cities designed to drum up support among local artists and intellectuals for the allied cause during the Second World War. On March 22, he gave a lecture at the ENBA (Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes), sponsored by its director, the painter José Sabogal (1888–1956), the founder and leader of the Peruvian indigenist school. In his talk, Siqueiros described the genesis of the so-called Mexican painting “school,” explaining that it was spawned by the convergence of a renewal in the visual arts and a political commitment that used muralism’s potent power of expression [see the following article in the ICAA digital archive: “De arte: se efectuó ayer la conferencia del pintor mexicano Siqueiros” (anonymous) (doc. no. 1143260)]. He therefore invoked the war in Europe and referred to the Mexican experience as a way to fight against the common enemies of fascism, and especially Nazi Germany. It is interesting to note that the local press only published reviews of his speech; but the presence of the charismatic Mexican artist attracted a great deal of attention in the Lima art world. Some years later, a number of his statements were collected by one of the major opponents of indigenism at the ENBA, the critic Luis Fernández Prada (1917–1973). It should be noted that there was apparently no immediate debate or discussion in response to the lecture by the Mexican muralist. [See other documents by Siqueiros in the ICAA digital archive: his illuminating Barcelona manifesto from 1921, “3 llamamientos de orientación actual a los pintores y escultores de la nueva generación americana” (doc. no. 801659); and his statement of disappointment, written in the 1960s, “A quienes lucharon por mi libertad con mi más profundo reconocimiento” (doc. no. 751235); among many others].