Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


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The “independents” exhibition was born out of an effort by artists to promote an art market and maintain control of it, christened in the same manner as the Parisian avant-garde. That first show in November 1922—by Grupos de Acción de Arte [Art Action Groups] at the Academia de San Carlos—was reviewed harshly by critics. Febronio Ortega, who favored the avant-garde, was one of them. Ortega states that two artists stood out from the rest: Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, although he also weighs the work of Jean Charlot, Fermín Revueltas, and Doctor Atl, as well as Leopoldo Méndez and Fernando Leal. In his opinion, the work of David Alfaro Siqueiros is timid, although the sculptures by Carlos Bracho, Guillermo Ruiz and Fidias Elizondo have some redeeming approach. He describes the rest as “baloney.” The commentator for El Universal Ilustrado—a steadfast ally of the avant-garde—believes that the show failed due to a lack of organization. According to his article, the announcements for the opening were limited to the close circles of the exhibitors, who were more likely to go out drinking than to appreciate works of art. With regard to the curatorial aspects, he points out the lack of order and the absence of a catalog.


The most interesting part of the document is its unusual content. In contrast to other reviews, this one offers elements for reflection upon the exhibition procedures of the 1920s. This group of artists was concerned with exhibitions and sales and so they used the platform of the old academy of art, charging an entrance fee of one peso— “armed robbery” according to the critic —even though the event included a kind of concert. 

It should be noted that caricaturists participated in the show and that they received treatment equal with the artists. The caricaturists include: Toño Salzar, Hugo Tilghman, Miguel Covarrubias and José Torres Palomar. 

Francisco Reyes Palma
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of El Universal de México, Mexico City
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional