Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

Carlos Mérida divides his essay into two parts. In the first one, he outlines the historical development of artistic activity in Mexico, beginning with the general strike of 1910 and ending at the dawn of the muralist period. In the second, Mérida submits that Mexican painting derives from two sources: traditional art and the influence of European painters, both of which have in turn been affected by local trends. Within this structure, he identifies two different approaches to painting, one of which is anecdotal, while the other is an unmistakable expression of the visual arts. Using this perspective as his criteria, Mérida reviews the works of Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros, among other artists.  

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Though the actual publication has not been found, and the date of the essay cannot be confirmed, the details mentioned therein suggest that it was written in 1932 or 1933. The essay is certainly relevant, however, because of Mérida’s harsh criticism of the work of Diego Rivera (1886-1957), which he describes as monotonous, decadent, and superficial.   Carlos Mérida (1891-1984) was a Guatemalan painter who settled in Mexico. In his essays he traces more than six decades of artistic development in his adopted country. His point of view—which is both seductive and highly critical—mirrors the opinion of someone who was present during the various artistic developments, so that his ideas contribute new readings and analytical insights that differ from the views typically expressed by his contemporaries. In addition to his essays about the evolution of the visual arts in Mexico, Mérida also wrote about a range of other subjects, such as cartoons, photography, dance, the movies, design, and traditional art in Mexico and Guatemala, and thought deeply about the question of composition in the visual arts, and about the meaning and purpose of art.  

Researcher
Leticia Torres
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit
Courtesy of Alma Mérida, Mexico City, México
Location
Donación Alma Mérida : Museo Nacional de Arte