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.
Antonio Rodríguez published an open letter sent to him by Marta Traba—the Argentine critic—in response to his article “El muralismo de México: uno de los momentos culminantes del arte de este siglo” [Muralism in Mexico: One of the Climactic Moments in the Art of this Century]. In her letter, Traba states that Mexico is a great country that was able to produce José Luís Cuevas, even after giving rise to Diego Rivera; she also states that no one continues to paint in the muralist style. She asserts that Mexico is a country that created an anti-aesthetic that contaminated all the Latin American countries. She also maintains that a painter from that same generation, Rufino Tamayo, gave rise to that aesthetic, but that Mexico returned to a contemporary aesthetic with an extraordinary painter like Cuevas, and that this amounted to a revision of the rhetoric of abstract art. Traba states that she cannot understand how, in a country that accomplished such an incredible feat, there could exist people like Antonio Rodríguez who attempt to deny this, instead defending the “so-called three great ones,” outside of any time and context. Traba strongly refutes three points made by Rodríguez in his previous articles: the permanence of muralism, through an enduring line beginning with Teotihuacán and continuing to [Manuel] Felguérez; the muralists’ emphatic opposition to the French art of the era as a contribution to contemporary art; and the muralism movement’s innovations in form.
Marta Traba (1930-1983) was born in Buenos Aires. She was an art historian, critic, journalist and student of Jorge Romero Brest—Director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, head of the private foundation Instituto Torcuato Di Tella from 1960 to 1970, and a supporter of a broad avant-garde of Argentine artists. She was also the protégé of José Gómez Sicre, the director of the Sección de Artes Visuales de la Unión Panamericana de la OEA [Visual Arts Section of the Pan-American Union of the Organization of American States]. Traba founded and served as president of the Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogotá; she also became an influential shaper of artistic taste in Latin America through her many essays and lectures.
In her attacks on Mexican muralism, Traba maintained that political revolutions are conservative and anti-aesthetic; as such, the muralists’ reactionary qualities were therefore expected. Such a hypothesis was not novel; Carlos Mérida (1891-1984) had already made this proposal in his writings, although in a less generalized manner and with arguments supported by a much deeper study of the era, of the artists, and their works.