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Synopsis

As vice-president of the Frente Nacional de Artes Plásticas (FNAP) [National Front for the Visual Arts], David Alfaro Siqueiros makes the latest resolution of the group known. To wit: “to immediately initiate a national campaign directed at the next Federal Government, as well as the next state governments, so that they provide official resources for muralism to be continued . . . ..” The group also demands that the government put an end to “budget-based arguments,” so that the unfinished murals at the Ciudad Universitaria, Aduana de Santo Domingo, Museo de Historia del Castillo de Chapultepec and others may be completed. It also demands “a sufficiently large budget” for the Taller de Ensayo de Materiales del Instituto Politécnico Nacional [Test Materials Workshop at the National Polytechnic Institute] and the Instituto de Restauro [Conservation Institute] at the Bienes Nacionales [National Assets]. In his declaration, Siqueiros compares muralism with Land Reform; he considers it to be one of the “constitutional duties” of the Federal Government. Frente’s members made their demands in light of the recent destruction of Jorge González Camarena’s murals (1957). 

Annotations

The FNAP came together to defend muralism in the wake of the supposed destruction of Jorge González Camarena’s (1908-80) La vida [Life]on July 28, 1957. Although an earthquake of large magnitude hit Mexico City on that day, in reality the mural did not sustain significant damage. Nevertheless, the next day some individuals took advantage of the opportunity created by the earthquake to destroy the painting, according to the testimony of some witnesses; the work had been controversial since its creation 16 year earlier due to its enormous nude figures. Artists, critics and architect Carlos Obregón Santacilia (1896-1961), designer of the Guardiola building that contained Camarena’s work, protested the outrage. David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) made an appeal to the future federal and state officials because of the lack of interest and indifference toward the destruction of the mural. This occurred one year before the end of the six-year period (1952-58) marking the end of presidential terms in Mexico. Siqueiros demands that officials ensure the continuity of the mural projects. Nevertheless, President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines’ successor, Adolfo López Mateos (1958-64), denied the support requested by the artist. Instead he imprisoned him for four years in Lecumberri by means of the ambiguous application of a law known as “the crime of social dissolution.”

Researcher
Diana Briuolo
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit

Location
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional. México D.F., México