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.
The journalist and future historian of journalism, Agustín Agüeros, undertakes a defense of Mexican artists who have studied in Europe and are now showing their work at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes (midyear 1906). Agüeros makes every effort to be objective in his criticism of the exhibition, steering away from both negative criticism and overenthusiastic praise. He does savagely attack those critics who believe Mexicans lack what it takes to be artists, and he finds sufficient merit in today’s art to distinguish it from that of the dreary academic past. In this regard, he emphasizes that unlike other similar shows, this exhibition is limited to the work of Mexican painters and sculptors. He also celebrates the participants’ freedom from Impressionist influences (including its derivatives), along with their avoidance of fashionable elements in general. While Agüeros does not praise the quality of the works, he points out that they do provide testimony to the changes in visual concepts and sensibility of the period. For example, he calls attention to the preponderance of natural motifs over religious and historical ones. Referring to several of the young painters, the critic sees them as “enamored of the beauty and charm of a scene,” and thus inclined toward studies of nature. The list of painters in the exhibition includes Alfredo Ramos Martínez, Leandro Izaguirre, Francisco Goitia, Gonzalo Argüelles Bringas and Diego Rivera.
Though it was held under the auspices of the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes (previously named “Academia de San Carlos”), this exhibition clearly emerged from the atmosphere of renewal that was permeating the arts at the time. During this period, art was becoming more self-referential and oriented toward painting created as art for art’s sake. It was no accident that the exhibition generated a great deal of controversy. Some of the critics hailed the new theories that resulted in artwork with more attractive, authentic perspectives than those inherited through the academic tradition. This article by Agustín Agüeros is important testimony in this regard, and its value is augmented by confirmation found in other testimony.