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In a brief interview, Carlos Chávez, director of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL, 1947), gives a detailed explanation of the efforts put forth to portray “the interior development of the country and to promote the nation’s values” on an international level. As such, the principal purpose of the exhibition that would take place in Paris was to “support Mexico’s contribution to the universal culture.” During his tenure as director, the Mexican government presented exhibitions of Mexican painting in Havana, Cuba; Bogotá, Colombia; Venice, Italy; and cities in the United States. These activities on the international scene were made possible with President Miguel Alemán’s full support and interest. About some logistical details of the Paris show, Chávez stated that the exhibition was at first meant to take place at the Petit-Palais; nevertheless, the Mexican government “was not able to reach an agreement regarding some details” with the director of the space. Thus Mexican officials entered into talks with Jean Cassou, director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, in Paris, and he agreed to present the Mexican exhibition at the museum. 


Fernando Gamboa (1908–1990) wanted to serve as the exhibition’s curator and museographer. It is very likely that the refusal of the Petit-Palais director was because of Gamboa’s interest in serving as artistic director of the event; he then made an offer to Jean Cassou, who confirmed the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris for the exhibition. It was important for Gamboa to present Mexican art abroad from his own perspective. Thus he designed a curatorial discourse that presented the national characteristics that would portray Mexican history as a great and prestigious story, while also expressing the spirit of the people. For the government, the international exhibitions became a showcase for the spiritual and revolutionary development of the national arts tradition.

Ana María Torres : CEPE, U.N.A.M. / CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Promotora Cultural Fernando Gamboa