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Furthering his theories about popular art, and referring to the paintings on the walls of certain pulquerías [agave sap bars] in Mexico City, Diego Rivera once again discusses the art of the proletariat. He restates his contempt for bourgeois artists and for the inferior taste of the middle class. Rivera also quotes an amusing story about the time that Benito Juárez went to the opening of a pulquería in the Tacuba neighborhood, called “Fuente Embriagadora” [The Source of Inebriation], where academic artist Petronilo Monroy painted the walls. Rivera described the work as “Ingristopopular,” inferring that it was influenced by La fontaine [The Source], the painting by Auguste Dominique Ingres. Pulquería paintings depicted scenes from everyday life and, at times, reflected the tragedy that sometimes befalls ordinary people. Rivera mocks educator and philosopher José Vasconcelos’ interpretation of the work as portraying a “Dionysian state,” and describes it as simply “a night on the town.”
One of the great arguments that raged in the 1930s between David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) and Diego Rivera (1886-1957) concerned the inclusion of popular art within the genre of revolutionary painting. Siqueiros did not believe that doing so would benefit the goals of the revolution, and referred to popular art as “Mexican curious.” But many painters, among them Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), thought that eschewing modernity and re-embracing nineteenth-century popular art in their own work was a valuable strategy, and it played a vitally important role in the first phase of the Mexican school. The idea that popular art is synonymous with what is “typically Mexican” has had a detrimental effect on the work of lesser painters, even more so than among the first generation that discovered and valued popular art. Diego Rivera illustrated the cover of theseventh issue of Mexican Folkways: a peasant is carrying a sickle and a worker carries a hammer, and between them there is a snake with a stalk of wheat. This drawing appeared in several issues. The article includes photographs of pulquerías that are no longer standing.
Reproduced in Raquel Tibol, Diego Rivera, Arte y Política (Mexico City: Grijalbo, 1979); Xavier Moyssén, Diego Rivera Textos de Arte (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1986).