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In this article, Honduran writer Rafael Heliodoro Valle provides a panorama of the most important moments in the history of Mexican painting. Valle claims that Mexico’s artistic production is preeminent and widely praised by international critics. He attributes this artistic excellence to Mexico’s rich past, evidenced by numerous archaeological ruins. Valle singles out the colonial painters Baltasar de Echave Orio, Baltasar de Echave Rioja, Juan Rodríguez Juárez, and Miguel Cabrera for their artistic achievements despite constraints imposed upon their art by the conservatism of the period. During the colonial period, the Academia de San Carlos served as the foundation of Mexican academic painting and of “Mexicanismo” as seen in the work of acclaimed painter Saturnino Herran. Valle cites Doctor Atl and José Clemente Orozco as paragons of painting after the end of the Porfirio Díaz regime. According to Valle, Diego Rivera is the most acclaimed Mexican painter, and has generated the most critical discussion outside of Mexico. Like José Clemente Orozco, Rivera was commissioned by the Mexican secretary of public education, José Vasconcelos, to create murals to decorate the Ministry of Education in Mexico City. Valle also mentions the Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre, and the Sección de Dibujo y Trabajos Manuales, two efforts to incorporate collective art instruction into the Mexican Revolutionary platform. Finally, Valle makes note of contemporary Mexican painters, such as the “30-30” group, including Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, Abraham Angel, Julio Castellanos, Máximo Pacheco, Rosario Cabrera, Carlos González, Rafael Vera de Córdova, and R. Alva de la Canal.


Heliodoro Valle, born in Honduras in 1891, was a distinguished poet, historian, essayist, journalist, and diplomat. Valle moved to Mexico at the age of sixteen and lived there for fifty years. In 1911, Valle published his first collection of poetry, El rosal del ermitaño. He returned intermittently to Honduras to lead various literary conferences, and to found the cultural institution El Ateneo de Honduras. He was then named subsecretary at the Honduran Ministry of Education and was sent on diplomatic trips to the United States by the government. In 1917, Valle published El perfume de la tierra natal, which contains his most renowned poem, "Jazmines del cabo." Upon his return to Mexico, he worked under José Vasconcelos in the Mexican Ministry for Education, and wrote on artistic, literary, and cultural affairs for newspapers, such as El Universal and Excélsior. Valle later became a professor, and was the head of publications at the National Museum of Archaeology. He continued to publish volumes of poetry, as well as books on Mexican history, such as La anexión de Centroamérica a México: documentos y escritos de 1821–1828. From 1950 to 1955, Valle served as the Honduran ambassador to the United States, and then returned to Mexico. He wrote "Panorama de la pintura Mexicana" after witnessing the groundswell of artistic production after the Mexican Revolution. This article reflects Valle’s immersion in the Mexican cultural scene, as well as the growing international favor for Mexican painting inspired by the movement of Mexican muralism.

Karen Cordero; Molly Moog, collaborator
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público