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In forty paragraphs, David Alfaro Siqueiros outlines the process of artistic integration of Mexican architecture and painting that produced the Ciudad Universitaria, the Presidente Juárez Apartment Blocks and the Museo Experimental El Eco. For Siqueiros, artistic integration had existed until the Renaissance when the Church and the State washed their hands of sculpture and painting until they became a product that would be privately acquired. He points out that it was not until the muralist movement in Mexico during the 1920s that this idea of integration once again began to have world influence. Siqueiros relates how in 1906 painters were advocating for public art that would have a nationalist base, have universal value, and that would adopt realism. In the muralist’s opinion, a false nationalism took root in 1924; it was dominated by a Mexican decorative sensibility imported from the United States and Europe instead of the original realism of the movement; it was the art for art’s sake [concept] accepted by the nouveau riche. He delivers some critical judgments of the Ciudad Universitaria’s architecture (UNAM campus) and points out several useless aspects of the architectural space that he supposes were built for artistic reasons, but the muralist believes them to be in fact scenographic elements that lack any functional sense. Siqueiros believes there are two clear architectural trends: that of Le Corbusier (the cosmopolitan) and another that seeks to “mexicanize” the structure of that same architecture by covering it with “Mexican dresses and huipiles [traditional embroidered outfits]. He analyzes the library building, a design by the painter/architect Juan O’Gorman and the “decoration” that Diego Rivera painted in the stadium; he declares that both designs are schematic and primitive rather than realist. The painter also states that another, more dangerous trend also exists that deserves his most violent attacks: it is the importers’ trend that produces semi-figurative work. He mentions the Centro Urbano Presidente Juárez [Apartment Blocks] and El Eco Experimental Museum as examples. Siqueiros concludes that in a country as poor as Mexico, snobbish artistic manifestations are not only stupid, but criminal. The muralist believes that integrationist architecture must be practical, but also realistic in character and its social projection. It must also assume a popular, non-aristocratic sensibility whose artistic expression is neither cosmopolitan nor neo-pre-Cortesian.

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The texts that David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) wrote on the “integration of the arts” were highly critical and controversial. Such was the case with the talk he delivered in 1953 at the Casa del Arquitecto in Mexico City during a meeting for the movement, in which the architects Raúl Cacho, Juan O’Gorman (1905–1982) and Enrique del Moral (1906–1987) also participated, among others. Siqueiros wrote a sixteen-page text called “Arquitectura Internacional a la zaga de la mala pintura” [The International Architecture behind Bad Painting] for the event. Only forty paragraphs of this text]would later be published in the magazine Arte Público in November 1954. During his talk, which was characterized by heavy sarcasm, the painter outlined the formal artistic trends that prevailed in the most significant examples of 1950s Mexican architecture: the Ciudad Universitaria (UNAM campus), the Apartment Blocks Presidente Juárez and El Eco Experimental Museum facilities.

Researcher
Leticia Torres : CURARE A. C.
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City, Mexico
Location
Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros