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.
HOY magazine thought that the long-running controversy between mural painters and abstract painters was old news. The simmering dispute had, however, recently boiled over into an open argument between Tamayo and Siqueiros, so the magazine asked both painters to define their sheer position. Siqueiros described the history of the post-revolutionary art movement, from the strike at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes [National School of Fine Arts] until his involvement in the revolutionary struggle. Ever since then there had been a marked difference between Mexican painting and French painting; the former was interested in the working class and painting for the people, whereas the latter was individualistic and more interested in easel painting. Siqueiros insisted that Tamayo did not belong to the movement; he was never interested in politics, and had always been more concerned with traditional Mexican art. But he was a deserter because he chose not to join the movement, perhaps because of his links to the Los Contemporáneos group. According to Siqueiros, Tamayo’s painting was radically different from his own. Tamayo, for his part, presented a photo-montage. He submitted a copy of the article headlined “Gangsterismo en la pintura Mexicana” [Gangsterism in Mexican painting] that appeared in Excélsior newspaper on November 14, 1950, over which he had pasted two photographs; in one of them he is shown with pieces of paper over his ears, and in the other he is shown with paper over his mouth. Tamayo’s reply, in other words, was to be deaf and dumb.
Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) discuss current realities in Mexico and modern elements in art. They agree that the modern features of the “new painting” are experimentation, energy, and movement. They both identify with the artistic avant-garde of the early years of the century; and they have both contributed a sense of modernity to the Mexican visual arts—Siqueiros through a “politically-influenced universalist approach to the visual arts,” and Tamayo through a “philosophically-influenced universalist approach to the visual arts.” In terms of abstract art, Siqueiros, despite having rejected the style, developed an experimental kind of painting in which he found imaginative forms that arose from pictorial accidents. For his part, Tamayo, who also rejected abstract art, considered it to be more of a symbolic, expressive language, and used it when working with textures and chromatic effects. The argument, in fact, seemed to arise from a conflict between the two sides of the same coin: the problem of realism and its scope in modern art.