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 book from which this essay was taken is a compendium of and apology for Mexican art from the pre-Columbian era through the twentieth century. Like many of her compatriots, the author Marion Lucille Arendt visited Mexico in the mid-1920s, attracted by what was known as the Mexican Art Renaissance. Arendt’s main reason for writing this essay based on her personal observations was a University of California seminar she was taking under the guidance of the eminent historian, Herbert I. Priestley. Throughout her work, Arendt extols the originality and authenticity of Mexican art over the centuries, often under adverse historical circumstances.
The book—The Historical Significance of Mexican Art and Architecture (1927)—was originally published in English by the Ministry of Public Education (SEP) of Mexico given that it was written for U.S. readers. It is not known if some version was published in Spanish. What we do know is that Marion Lucille Arendt’s premise was nothing new, since she wrote the book within the worn-out narrative of the Mexican Art Renaissance. Launched in the early 1920s, this movement became highly popular with U.S. academics, artists and critics during that decade. In fact, it was in the California and New York regions where such ideas had the greatest impact; thus, it comes as no surprise that Arendt was a student at the University of California.