Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail

Ricardo Gómez Robelo enthusiastically celebrates the success of the exhibition mounted at the Academia de San Carlos in 1906, featuring Mexican artists who had been awarded fellowships. He praises the “revelation that we do not deceive ourselves, those of us who still have faith in the ability of our own to realize high ideals.” He likewise stresses the unprecedented and vehement manifestation of opinions, “not of doctrines, but rather demonstrating an awakening of the spirit, although, as should have been expected, not completely free of the wicked influences of the night.” He provides an interesting examination of the critiques on the event, surprised that the most authoritative of them declare to be against imitation. In a country such as ours, a Mexico “sin tradición artística” [without an artistic tradition] of its own, he defends it. This is the cornerstone of his defense of the show and its artists, which was along the same line as that of the Revista Moderna de México. His support for intelligent imitation is noteworthy that goes in tandem with a growth in landscape technique; this will be “signo de un renacimiento artístico” [a symbol of an artistic rebirth] in the country. In order to emphasize the advance that the exhibition represents, Gómez Robelo contrasts the subject matter of the landscape with its somber academic past, characterized by saints and historic vistas.


The controversy surrounding this exhibition, brought on by the participants led by Ricardo Gómez Robelo, is one of the few [events] that marks Mexico’s cultural memory during this period. This legal expert and lecturer, a friend to the members of El Ateneo [an association of artists and intellectuals], in particular Alfonso Reyes, distinguished himself through a literary career that encompassed poetry, story-telling, essays, translations and art criticism. In this latter discipline, five articles stand out; they were included in his brief anthology published by the Fondo de Cultura Económica. The work mentioned in this article is one of these, along with another that is covered under a different record. 

The potential for an art of Mexico’s own is at the heart of the controversy; it is referred to by the term “renacimiento” [rebirth], free of imitation and related to local character and environment. He likewise provides a vigorous critique of the art linked to the process and potential of the artists calling for change: Julio Ruelas (1870-1960), Diego Rivera (1886-1957), Roberto Montenegro (1885-1968), Francisco Goitia (1882-1960), Alfredo Ramos Martínez (1871-1946), are among the most noteworthy.

Luis Rius Caso
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Fondo Reservado del Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional