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.
Diego Rivera maintains that the crisis in Mexican painting is an invention. It may be a crisis invented by the literati so they will have a pretext for writing their books, or perhaps created by critics so they will have material to send to their editors. It even includes a lot of consecrated painters who would like all the others to belong to an army under their own command. In Rivera’s opinion, painting is a mirror of historical processes, and although it reflects times of crisis, it does not do so through the aesthetic value or talent of the painters. To exemplify his idea, he comments on Goya, who created brilliant work during a decadent period in the Spanish monarchy. Rivera states that the crisis that Mexico is undergoing cannot affect the quality of the painting; he then focuses the remainder of his comments on the three generations of artists working today. The artists in the second generation, in order to avoid being accused of being followers of Orozco, Rivera, or Siqueira, have become disciples of Picasso, Kandinsky or de Chirico trends. In their awareness of this error, the artists in the third generation are turning their eyes toward the effeminately charming art of the nineteenth-century Mexican petite bourgeoisie. However, the painter emphasizes that the third generation includes some young artists who are returning to the happy state of painting the brightness of sun and color. Diego acknowledges Frida Kahlo as their lodestar; she is the painter who belongs to the most genuine and spontaneous generation of Mexican painters. With all this group of artists has to offer, they may be able to help the country to survive and construct a national identity. The muralist notes that another artist who is part of this small group is Juan O’Gorman. Rivera relates the process that led to the first murals rendered in 1921 and the creation of the Sindicato de Pintores, Escultores y Grabadores [Painters, Sculptors and Printmakers Union] and its historic importance. Finally, the painter states that ideological content is the lifeblood of all artworks; nevertheless, he warns that however effective and good the ideology may be, it cannot save bad painting.
This essay is the response of Diego Rivera (1886–1957) to the survey of several artists, carried out by the journal Así. The questions posed were: Is there a crisis in contemporary painting in Mexico? If so, what are the signs? Looking back over the years, was the success of Mexican painting based on the revolutionary situation that united the painters in the famous Sindicato de 1921 [Union of 1921] and the platform it set forth? Was the cause of the “crisis” the split of the Sindicato, the abandonment of its platform, and/or the tacit rebellion of young artists against the limitations of its ideology? Or, are these factors perhaps necessary for the creation of the next, more advanced stage in Mexican painting? Was the fact that the heyday in Mexican painting occurred in the first place, was prolonged, or superseded linked to mural painting? And finally, is ideological content favorable or harmful to the creation of great artworks? One of the important aspects of Rivera’s comments is his opinion of the painting of Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), and the place he accords her in his classification of Mexican art.