The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This short article revolves around the events surrounding the Exhibition of Mexican Art with work that ranged from pre-Columbian times up to the date of the article. Organized by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), it was about to be shown in Paris. As it was being mounted, the Mexican authorities agreed that the Swedish government would show the exhibition next in Stockholm. Margarita Nelken uses half the space in her article to clarify what happened—and not to “distort the real reason,” she states—that a mural Diego Rivera had executed under commission was removed. The mural, Pesadilla de guerra, sueño de Paz [The Nightmare of War and the Dream of Peace], was arbitrarily “removed from the set of works that was about to be shipped to Europe.”
Margarita Nelken (1896-1968) was a Spanish art critic who had relocated to Mexico with the exodus caused by the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). She reviewed Mexican events of international interest for the monthly publication Revista Internacional y Diplomática de México [International and Diplomatic Review of Mexico]for which she wrote regularly. In this article, Nelken is particularly critical of the Mexican authorities’ “condescending treatment of an artist accustomed to imposing his whims and excesses.” As she understands it, the mural by Diego Rivera (1886-1957) “pokes fun at friendly countries.” This was why it became politically impossible to be displayed.
Rivera’s work and attitudes were often judged categorically, even scornfully, by this writer: “advertising designed to dazzle the tourists.”