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In this essay, written in 1988, Manuel Felguérez relates the beginnings of what is known as the Ruptura movement in the 1950s. Felguérez points out that the arrival of refugees from the Spanish Civil War and other European nations in the previous decade fostered a rebirth of the visual arts in Mexico. He acknowledges that there was a firmly held belief at the time that art could only come from the Old World. That was why a number of young artists traveled and passed some time residing in cities such as Paris and Rome. Felguérez believed that although his generation was dynamic, there would be numerous difficulties to confront in order for them to become professional artists. This was because of Mexico’s small mid-twentieth-century art market, but once art galleries began to proliferate, the movement would gather strength. Over time, this development led the numbers and quality of young avant-garde artists to become comparable to those representing the Mexican School of Painting.


The reason this essay is important is that the writer, Manuel Felguérez (b. 1928), was among those who started the Ruptura movement. And, in terms of the art scenario, the sculptor would be one of the first abstract artists of that generation.  

It was also important because the term "Ruptura" only took hold in 1988, based on a retrospective exhibition with that title held at the Museo Carrillo Gil in Mexico City. The related catalog explains the origins of the word, which goes back to the year 1950, when Octavio Paz published an essay entitled "Tamayo en la pintura mexicana" [Tamayo in Mexican Painting]. In that essay, Paz recognized the new theories of a group of avant-garde artists, among which the essayist takes special notice of Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991). According to Paz, this group was carrying out a "ruptura" with the old Mexican School of Painting. Years later, the same term would be used by the Guatemalan art critic and writer, Luis Cardoza y Aragón (1901-1992) in his book, México: Pintura activa [Mexico: Active Painting] (1961), to refer to the views of the new Mexican artists with respect to their predecessors. However, it would not be until 1988 that a general consensus would be established among artists, critics and historians in order to use the name "Ruptura" for the generation of avant-garde artists that arose in the 1950s Mexico.

Alejandro Ugalde : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of Manuel Felguerez Barra, Mexico City, México
Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México