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.
The author of this article contemplates Diego Rivera and refers to an essay written by Alejo Carpentier, “El Renacimiento del fresco en México” [The Renaissance of the Fresco in Mexico] published in Le Cahier in Paris. According to this writer, Rivera is largely responsible for the renaissance of muralism because without the contribution made by his extra-aesthetic qualities, such as perseverance and a bellicose gesture, there would have been no re-flowering of mural art. The article mentions Rivera’s most recent work, at the Palacio de Cortés in Cuernavaca, and notes the painter’s unflagging taste for work of a combative nature that caricatures, ridicules, and expresses a devastating irony. This ideological preoccupation is unfortunate, the author says, because it does not do justice to the work’s aesthetic quality, and instead suggests monstrous book illustrations and theatrical sets. The article softens his critique toward the end by stating that, in the future, Diego Rivera’s painting will emerge as the most superb expression of the exuberance and restlessness of Mexican life.
The source material for this article, as mentioned in its first paragraph, was an essay by the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier published in France (Le Cahier, Paris) a year before it appeared in Mexico, and shortly after it was translated into Spanish. The publication coincided with the appearance in our country of the third article in a series on Mexico written by the Surrealist poet Robert Desnos, which was published in Le Soir, the Paris newspaper, in May 1928 (see doc. 760481). Both pieces reflect the heightened French interest in post-revolutionary Mexican art; however, the different approaches are remarkable. Desnos (the French poet who never visited Mexico) proposes a vision that, according to Luis Mario Schneider, encouraged the legend of Mexico as “a Surrealist country.” Carpentier, on the other hand, submits a critical assessment of Rivera’s œuvre. In 1926 Carpentier attended a writers’ conference in Mexico City, where he became aware of the muralist movement and met Rivera and other artists and intellectuals of the period. After that brief visit, Carpentier began to write critiques on Latin American art. Back in Cuba that same year he published “Diego Rivera pintor mexicano” [Diego Rivera Mexican Painter] in Carteles. Also in 1926, another magazine, Social, published his “Creadores de hoy. El arte de José Clemente Orozco” [Today’s Creators. The art of José Clemente Orozco] and, in 1927, before Carpentier was exiled to France, “Diego Rivera,” an essay in which he introduced the exhibition of the Mexican muralist’s production that was organized by revista de avance magazine, which he had helped to found.