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Poet and critic José Juan Tablada points out that for the first time contemporary art from Mexico had been fully recognized in the United States through the œuvre of José Clemente Orozco, an artist “whose psychological power and highly tragic sense” had not existed in any period of Mexico’s creations in the visual arts. Tablada considers that, thanks to the work by Orozco, the people of the United States have been able to understand the meaning and tragedy of the revolutionary movement, thus perceiving and approving the work of social reconstruction that the Mexican state is carrying out now.


After his murals at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria were attacked by the students, creating serious damage to the work, and after the state support for the artist was cancelled, José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) traveled to the United States in order to try his luck in that country, as many of his fellow artists had done before. Unlike the statements by José Juan Tablada (1871-1945), the journalist Alma Reed—principal promoter of the artist’s work in New York—remarked in her biography the difficulties she encountered in her attempt to place the works by the Mexican painter within the taste of the United States society. To such an extent that, during the first exhibition she herself organized, none of the works by Orozco could be sold. The principal means to finding a link to the United States market was by her exploiting the tragic vein in the artist’s vision. Thus, the United States market gradually started to accept his art but never to the same degree that they would later react to the work of other Mexican artists, such as Diego Rivera (1886-1957). A short time after, in fact, Diego Rivera would have his first retrospective in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, thus placing himself as the main cultural link between both countries.  

Mireida Velázquez : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas, Universidad Autónoma de México, Mexico City, México
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional