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Synopsis

This magazine questionnaire on Mexican sculpture surveyed four sculptors, two painters, and an architect. The questions were as follows: (1) Is Mexican sculpture involved in our current period of revolutionary construction? (2) Given its admirable history, is our sculpture all that it should be? (3) How do our sculptors work, and how should they work? Four of the respondents replied “no” to the first question. According to Fernández Urbina, it was because there had been no revolutionary architecture; Guillermo Ruiz said that it was because academic foremen rejected and censured any form of expression; Fermín Revueltas claimed that sculpture had never been involved in any period because there is none, but he acknowledged that isolated groups were taking shape; and finally, in Diego Rivera’s opinion, the answer was simply “no.” The sculptor Domínguez Bello and the architect Centeno both said that Mexican sculpture did indeed exist; the former thought it was involved in the revolutionary period but not in construction, and the latter thought it was simply a reflection of the times. Ignacio Asúnsolo mentioned that multicolored terracotta tiles and traditional toys had always been important. Most respondents said “no” to the second question, with the exception of Domínguez Bello who suggested that the visual art influences in Mexican sculpture were the same as in universal sculpture. Most of those involved in the survey answered the third question by saying that sculptors do not work.      

Annotations

The first issue of Forma [Form] magazine appeared in October 1926. José Manuel Puig Casauranc (1888–1939), Minister of Public Education (1924–28), announced on the first page that his ministry’s role was to promote and develop the visual arts that were “an increasingly clear and evident revelation, a formidable source of creative strength that inspires our people.” He added that the pre-Hispanic ruins were proof of that great talent. The Minister’s introduction touched on a number of concepts mentioned in the post-revolutionary governmental discourse that had been nuanced by the Primitivist trends and ideas of the European avant-garde. Puig Casauranc stressed that they would like the magazine to publish art that was free of negative influences. In his opinion, such influences included the Frenchified bad taste of the nineteenth century, “bad models,” and industrialism in art. 
The magazine was created and directed by the painter Gabriel Fernández Ledesma, and jointly edited by the SEP [Ministry of Public Education] and the Universidad Nacional de México—at that time still lacking autonomy. Salvador Novo was responsible for the magazine’s editorial policy that—as Puig Casauranc mentioned in his presentation—“will dictate the content of the magazine, and whose strict parameters should daunt no true, sincere artist.” Forma was perhaps the first magazine devoted to painting, printmaking, sculpture, architecture, and traditional expressions, as announced on the cover. Only seven issues appeared; publication ceased after 1928, a year of important political changes in the country (presidential elections and turnover in governmental positions).

The first three issues were the only ones to include a survey of this kind, on painting, sculpture, and architecture. The most relevant information that emerged from the survey on sculpture was the dissatisfaction expressed by the majority of respondents regarding the attitude and production of academic artists, and the separation between academic and popular sculpture. It should not be overlooked that there was already interest in combining sculpture with architecture, an idea that came into its own during the 1950s as part of the Integración Plástica [Integrated Visual Arts] movement.  

Researcher
Leticia Torres : CURARE A.C.
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Location
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional