Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

Fernando Leal’s article talks about the dearth of art criticism, which uses different names to describe the movement: “al fresco decorations,” “national art,” “Cubism,” “revolutionary art,” “academic art,” and “Renaissance.” Using an allegory, Leal says that Mexicans would like to sleep through the movement and never wake to see it as a whole. However, foreigners walk from one mural site to another asking: What do people see in the murals? Who is painting them? Why are they doing this? Leal does not seek to rewrite the history of the movement, but wishes to make clear that this work is not that of a single artist but from a group of artists who started out in tandem with the Francisco I. Madero Revolution (1910). Perhaps the precursors and their paintings were obscured by mural painting, but they remain as antecedents. Diego Rivera painted the first mural at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria (ENP) in encaustic, and it was Ramón Alva de la Canal who rendered the first fresco; after them came Jean Charlot, Leal and Fermín Revueltas; followed later by Siqueiros and Orozco. In Leal’s opinion, mural painting is the way to educate the public en masse, since it contributes to the future refinement of the masses. 

Annotations

While Fernando Leal (1896–1964) says in 1933 that he does not wish to rewrite the history of the movement, he does briefly set forth his opinion about the movement that was launched in Mexico starting in 1921–22. The article is important since, in the 1930s, the muralists’ works had been subsumed by Diego Rivera (1886–1957) who seemed to be the only person who had participated in the movement; in other words, Diego himself had stated that the other artists had been “his satellites.” The ENP was, in fact, the laboratory of Muralism. By 1933, people were still not calling it “Mexican Muralism;” this is why when Leal himself refers to it, he does so in keeping with the custom of the contemporary art critics.

Researcher
Esther Acevedo
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit
Courtesy of the private archives of Fernando Leal Audirac, Milan, Italy
Location
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional