The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In 1900, Revista Moderna [Modern Magazine]— the bastion of modernismo in the Spanish-speaking world—published two important essays by José Juan Tablada on Japanese art, both of which positioned him as a prominent authority on that subject. The first essay, reviewed here, takes us on a brief but insightful tour of Japanese art from its traditional period until the early eighteenth century, in the refined company of European critics and painters who did an in-depth study of the subject, such as the brothers Edmond and Jules Goncourt. Tablada also mentions the substantial influence exerted on European art by Japanese painting. He explains that these essays were intended to raise awareness in Mexico of the excellence of this art.
Japanism was among the most influential facets of modernismo that contributed to the birth and evolution of the European artistic avant-garde. The same might be said about the Japanism of Juan Tablada (1871-1945) vis-à-vis the evolution of the Mexican pictorial avant-garde of the early years. This explains the importance of these essays that discuss the ideas proposed by the first Spanish-language author to have researched in depth the iconography of the ukiyo-e [floating world], who advocates using one’s own landscape and human environment as a model and expressing its beauty and its features. Tablada finally articulated his proposal in his book Hiroshigué, published in 1914, in which he proposed using local vistas and concerns as the subject matter for mural paintings on public buildings (like the Japanese meisho). Tablada followed the subject matters expressed by José María Velasco, and especially those of contemporary artists (whom he considered to be far more talented than the landscapist) such as Jorge Enciso, Alfredo Ramos Martínez (1871-1946), and José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949). In the latter’s case, he was referring to Orozco’s "fallen women" and "schoolgirls revealing their incipient treacheries." The two essays published in the Revista Moderna [Modern Magazine] under the generic title of "Álbum del Extremo Oriente" ["Album of the Far East"] (which appeared in early May and the latter part of April, 1900), are therefore related to other aspects of the poet’s Japanism, and express his modern approach. Such a gaze should also be noted that he endorsed the painter Ramos Martínez —as promoter of the Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre [Open-Air Schools]—and the very young Orozco as the discoverer of sordid and morbid scenes such as brothels. The essays capture the essence of this critic who knew how to encourage the transition from modernismo to the avant-garde based on a search for universal values expressed through local values. In other words, it could be reached on the creative ability to express a sense of American-ness and, more specifically, a sense of Mexican-ness. See complementary text on the Far East (doc. 778184).