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In this article, the avant-garde poet José Juan Tablada states his points of view on such aesthetic questions as the “art for art” trend, the relationship between art and politics, and the intrinsic nature of popular art. According to Eduardo Luquín, Tablada is against artists who create for mere virtuosity, as if it were a “solitary vice”; nevertheless, the poet believes that art is a “supreme and disinterested entity” that cannot be subject to such human contingencies as politics. Lastly, Tablada states that the only popular arts should be industrial or applied arts, because popular is the same as common. In his judgment, a true artist should not create works to satisfy the masses.
The aesthetic postures of José Juan Tablada (1871–1945) might have appeared anachronistic in 1937, especially after the direction that artistic creation took in Mexico because of the muralist movement. Nevertheless, his career as a critic and promoter of Mexican art abroad during the 1910s and 1920s was valuable in the sense that his intense efforts allowed Mexican artists such as Miguel Covarrubias (1904–1957) and Adolfo Best Maugard (1891–1964) to become known in the United States. Tablada’s aesthetic opinions likewise became some of the most respected in Mexico and the United States during the post-revolutionary period. He influenced the cultural policies of the Mexican government, directing them toward those artists that he validated through his critiques, and excluding others who did not respond to his particular sense of “Mexican” identity. Tablada is a good example of those intellectuals belonging to the old Porfirista regime who nevertheless achieved important positions in the new revolutionary state.