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This short article reports on some painters’ comments on possible changes in the curriculum at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre [Open-Air Schools of Painting]. Details of the changes were kept confidential because the professors wished to discuss and accept them before releasing to the public. However, the teacher Argüelles, secretary of the Academy, offered comments on some of the alterations at stake. The changes included some vigorous measures to achieve greater discipline among the students at the Escuela Nacional and limits related to age and school grade completed for any student who wished to be admitted to an Escuela Libre. The writer notes his disagreement with the last point since, to him, the only purpose of such centers is to allow children and workers to enjoy a wholesome respite. He notes that, in spite of the much-ballyhooed triumph in Paris of paintings by Indian children, the teacher Argüelles considers art education at the outdoor centers to be a mere cultural pastime—while the results may be momentarily nice, they are not to be taken seriously. Moreover, the writer reviews comments by the painter Roberto Montenegro. In Montenegro’s opinion, it is sheer stupidity that the outdoor painting schools depend on the musty management of the Academy, which has fallen into the hands of the reactionaries. It would be preferable for these schools to be directed by the Fine Arts Department, where there is a true modern spirit. For his part, Diego Rivera states that the admirable outcomes achieved by the schools have been a result of open admission, free of any type of regulation. Finally, Rafael Vera de Córdoba, who is also against regulating the schools, warns that while the directors of these centers would agree to belong to the University, they do not trust the administration at the Academy.


This short article makes us aware of the diversity of opinions aroused by the free schools, both among conservative artists and those more liberal. The fact that these schools do not just raise pedagogical issues but also consider the results achieved by their students in some way affirms a change in the concept of art.

Around 1927, Alfonso Ramos Martínez (1872–1946) was enjoying the praise received by the exhibition of works from the outdoor art schools as it traveled around Europe. At the same time, he was neglecting his job as director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, and he lost the funding for maintaining his free education project. For his part, José Manuel Puig Casaurac (1888–1939), the Minister of Public Education, declared to the press that the Academy must be turned into an outdoor art school and cancel all its academic programs. The tension between the two educational projects, the free schools and the academic one, was intensifying. As one of several articles published on this matter at the time, this piece gives a picture of the positions of the opposing sides regarding free education. It also gives an account of the proposal whereby the Open-Air Schools of Painting would come to be a part of the Fine Arts Department. This was the idea originally proposed by Roberto Montenegro (1885–1968), and it actually came about in 1929.

Leticia Torres : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico

Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Hemeroteca Nacional/Biblioteca Nacional