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This article analyzes the works exhibited by Abraham Ángel, Julio Castellanos, Carlos Mérida, Manuel Rodríguez Lozano and Rufino Tamayo. It also states that other artists were invited to participate: José Clemente Orozco, who promised to send works from New York; the Spaniard Gabriel García Maroto, who declined due to a lack of sufficient work and Diego Rivera, who did not even to respond to the invitation.


Note that the exhibition title avoids any mention of Los Contemporáneos group; nonetheless, the criticism of the Cold War period insisted upon framing it as if it were in conflict with the national movement. Instead it appears to have reflected a persistent feature of the Mexican vanguard during the post-revolutionary period: the obsessive desire to incorporate Diego Rivera (1886-1957) into the ranks of various avant-garde movements. In addition to his past as a Cubist, Rivera had enjoyed the national and international prestige of initiating a renovation in public monumental painting. Rivera’s silence regarding the invitation from Los Contemporáneos was motivated by his anger toward Gabriel García Maroto, who had devoted an article to him in the first edition of Contemporáneos. The Spanish painter from La Mancha served as critic and designer for the magazine. 

The history of animosity goes back much further. Rivera’s arguments with journalist Salvador Novo (1904-74), another member of “Los Contemporáneos” can be traced to the fresco he painted for the Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP), in which the painter ridiculed him. Novo took his revenge with an epic poem that was both sarcastic and insulting: La Diegada, 1926. During the 1920s, when exhibition spaces were few in Mexico City, it was still customary to adapt commercial areas, such as the Pasaje América. It was located on what is today known as calle de Madero, the hub of nightlife at the time. It seems that Sergio Iturbe, an early patron of the post-revolutionaries, secured the space for Los Contemporáneos group. 

If he had not been in Paris, Agustín Lazo (1896-1971) would surely have been incorporated into the show given that he was a member of the group.

Francisco Reyes Palma
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
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