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 by the art critic Margarita Nelken comments on the recent inauguration in Paris of the traveling exhibition of Mexican art with work ranging from the pre-Columbian period up to the date of the article. She describes the artistic ambience that surrounds the exhibition as well as the ambience of the French capital. In Paris, there are other significant exhibitions going on at the same time as this one, which includes the display of more than two thousand pieces representing the Mexican cultural heritage. For Nelken, the lighting of some pieces was of particular interest: “There are no words that could add to the effect produced by the indirect lighting, which reinforces the emotional nature of the gigantic works of pre-Cortesian statuary, the altar and various pieces of baroque sculpture.”
The Spanish writer exiled in Mexico, Margarita Nelken (1896-1968), celebrates the great exhibition that was traveling around Europe—which, after Paris, would be taken to Stockholm and London. At the same time, she encounters some deficiencies in the contemporary art section. “Some of the critics lament the abundance of anecdotal paintings, as well as the total lack of modern sculpture, especially architectural photography. For your writer to say she shares this sentiment is a major understatement . . .”. It should come as no surprise that the critic makes these comments, since in her journalistic insight, she always took a stance against work with nationalist content. While she does not agree on the selections made by the assistant director of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), Fernando Gamboa (1908-1990), Nelken appreciates his lighting and curatorial discourse. Unquestionably, this exhibition establishes a place in the canon for certain visual artworks. The Eurocentric viewpoint of the Spanish critic leads her to conjecture that the Aztec goddess Coatlicue is “a primal stratum of modern surreal art.”