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.
This article discusses a plan by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to purchase works by José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Jesús Guerrero Galván, and Juan Soriano. The chosen artists’ formal and artistic qualities are outlined, and the MoMA is also identified as one of the “most valuable museums in the world.”
The MoMA was the first institution outside Latin America to set about collecting and exhibiting Mexican art. As a precursor to this acquisitions program, we should remember that in 1931 the museum presented an exhibition of works by Diego Rivera (1886-1957). This was a particularly significant move since the institution had been open only for two years at that point, and had so far hosted only one solo exhibition, for the French painter Henri Matisse (1869-1954). The museum’s accession policies may have been guided by a diplomatic objective: in May 1940 the museum presented the major exhibition Veinte siglos del arte en México [Twenty Centuries of Art in Mexico]. The parameters were therefore designed to promote international cooperation and to distance Mexico from its revolutionary image by presenting it in a less radical, more peaceful light. Considered from that perspective, the works by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991), Rivera, Jesús Guerrero Galván, and the young Juan Soriano (1920-2006) that the museum was planning to purchase seemed to be compatible with that cultural, somewhat depoliticized vision.