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


Document first page thumbnail
Editorial Categories [?]

The National Theater was a major architectural project during the Porfirio Díaz administration, but it was never completed due to the outbreak of the revolution in 1910. Later worked on by several post-revolutionary governments, it was transformed into the Palacio de Bellas Artes [Palace of Fine Arts], which opened, finally, in 1934. The intended function of the premises, according to Arturo Zepeda, a member of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR) [League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists], constituted a blatant return to the cultural priorities of the old oligarchy. The fact was that the high-ticket prices were an insurmountable barrier to members of the proletariat. According to this critic, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and Carlos Chávez all endorsed this inequality or even unfairness by means of either their artistic contributions or their presence. The article ends by stating that only a true revolution would bring an end to such forms of cultural exclusion.  


In September 1934 the opening of the Palacio de Bellas Artes [Palace of Fine Arts] provoked a variety of negative reactions. The most immediate one, on October 1, was expressed in a Manifesto in which a large group of intellectuals and artists condemned the reinstatement of this cultural symbol of the dictatorship. 

In fact, the plan to convert the ruins of the old National Theater into the Palacio de Bellas Artes and give it a useful social function was the brainchild of Alberto J. Pani in 1932; hence the addition of two museums—the Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas [National Museum of Plastic Arts] and the Museo de Arte Popular [Museum of Popular Art]. Indeed, their goal was to develop markets for Mexican artists and artisans; neither, however, prospered and both were soon in decline.

The Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR) [League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists] meanwhile launched its own criticism from a platform of proletarian culture and an overt rejection of high culture. Its stand was also influenced by political criteria, since the Communist International insisted on fighting the threat of fascist regimes and Trotskyite conspiracies, which were associated, respectively, with President Abelardo L. Rodríguez (1932-34) and the muralist Diego Rivera (1886-1957).

Francisco Reyes Palma : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Fondo Reservado de la Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México