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Antonio Rodríguez interviewed some figures who were well known in the art world to find out their opinions on the paintings by Jorge González Camarena in the entrance hall of the Edificio Guardiola. Made up of two huge nudes, they had recently been deemed “immoral” by some conservative segments of the society. The response was unanimous: All the artists considered any attempt to expunge the work to be an act of “censorship.” The painters who responded to Antonio Rodríguez were Diego Rivera, Santos Balmori, Leopoldo Méndez, Alfredo Zalce, Pablo O’Higgins and Abelardo Ávila; as well as other cultural figures who responded were Eduardo Méndez, director of the Galería Arte Decoración and the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.


The paintings by Jorge González Camarena that make up his work La Vida [Life], represent “man” and “woman” through two huge nudes. Apparently, the nudes offended the moral sensibility of an ultraconservative element of the Mexican society because the works were too realistic. Based on the complaints—lodged anonymously in some newspaper—a call was issued for their prompt destruction, appealing to the supposition that the Edificio Guardiola was public space. The Guardiola was actually an important art deco building that housed the Bank of Mexico as well as a small commercial gallery on the ground floor. In the opinion of Diego Rivera (1886-1957), behind the censorship of González Camarena’s work (1908-80), “one may discern the silhouettes of individuals who have made and paid for the Club de Banqueros.” Diego was referring to the proprietors of a private club on the top floors of the Guardiola, recently decorated at the time by Ángel Zárraga (1886-1946). Rivera also complained about the fact that the artist from Durango was painting for those high-level executives. From another perspective, both José Clemente Orozco and Dr. Atl rejected the modernista paintings created by Zárraga. Given the disagreements the modernista work had stirred up among his colleagues, Orozco and Dr. Atl believed that Zárraga was the leader of the campaign started against the González Camarena’s pieces.

Diana Briuolo : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of María Antonieta Fernández Moreno, Mexico City, Mexico
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional