Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

This print by Leopoldo Méndez was used for the cover of the first issue of Frente a Frente [Face to Face], in which the inauguration of the Palacio de Bellas Artes was satirized as an act of cultural exclusion. At the bottom of the page, a policeman throws two workers out of the première of “El sol,” a proletarian ballad, for lack of the 25-peso admission price. There are also a couple of skeletons of enormous proportions, identified both by reference to the “Fourth International” and the peso sign, as well as the “PNR” (National Revolutionary Party) and the Nazi swastika of Fascism.

Annotations

Using a minimum of written references, the artists were able to set forth political platforms based on the image, as a communications resource with special relevance. The “calaveras del día de los muertos” [“calaveras”: satirical poems spread on All-Souls’ Day] or “political skulls” carried on the old tradition of art linked to the political life. With this magazine cover, the printmaker Leopoldo Méndez (1902-69) transmitted the political stance of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR) [League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists], to which he belonged. Created in 1933, LEAR only launched its first publication in late- 1934. In this first issue, LEAR belligerently criticized the opening of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, contrasting it with the inauguration of a Monumento a la Revolución. (The construction of this monument had been interrupted by the start of the armed uprising in 1910 throughout the country, which had also interrupted the construction of Porfirio’s Palacio Legislativo [House of Representatives].) The two important personages, the Trotskyist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and the president of the official party (PNR), Carlos Riva Palacio, were shown in box seats. In the distance, in the forum, the composer Carlos Chávez (1899-1978), was taking a bow after the première of his Sinfonía proletaria [Proletariat Symphony].

Frente a Frente was a political slogan that captured the position of the Communist International. This group sought to avoid, at all costs, any alliance with fascism, a link that LEAR ascribed to the interim government of Abelardo L. Rodríguez (1932-34). 

Researcher
Francisco Reyes Palma : CURARE A. C.
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit
Courtesy of Pablo Méndez Barrera, Mexico City, Mexico
Location
Fondo Reservado de la Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México