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The critic Margarita Nelken analyzes the success of the show organized at Galería Excélsior under the title Arte y Libertad [Art and Freedom] by the Asociación Mexicana por la Libertad de la Cultura. “The key feature of this exhibition is the celebration of the richness of its diversity,” she wrote. Figurative artists linked to the Escuela Mexicana de Pintura [Mexican School of Painting] such as Nefero or Antonio Ruiz participated in the show, as well as Carlos Mérida and Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, who created works of a subjective nature. Alberto Gironella, Vlady and Enrique Echeverría, who were members of other vanguard aesthetic movements, also participated. This “diversity, both in technique and inspiration,” distinguished the exhibition from the common collective shows that were then being mounted in Mexico City. These latter were, in Nelken’s judgment, of a “uniformity bordering on a lack of personality, to the point that it was necessary to check the signature of the painting so that it could be distinguished from that of another painter.”


The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was behind the international organization of the Congress for Cultural Freedom between 1950 and 1967; the same which would become known in Paris, in April of 1952, through a spectacular month-long festival. During the Cold War, its malicious objective was to subtly keep Western intellectuals from moving toward Marxism through the naive promotion of neutral art. This policy of meddling on the part of the United States held little weight in Latin America, although Mexico allowed this show, positively reviewed by the Spanish critic exiled there, Margarita Nelken (1896-1968), to be mounted in a private space such as the Galería Excélsior. In her opinion, the show was “an escape valve from those lacking their own vision and was more important than any ideological imposition.

Diana Briuolo
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of Margarita Salas de Paúl, Mexico City, Mexico
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional