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 sculptor Francisco Zúñiga analyzes the reasons for the failure of the art schools. He acknowledges that the art schools do not graduate artists; the students are rather there to learn a set of techniques that are essential to making art. La Esmeralda, one of the main art schools in Mexico—where Zúñiga is an instructor—holds that after five years of study, the only resources a graduate has are those of a craftsman who knows how to paint and sculpt. However, in the writer’s opinion, most of the students who graduate from La Esmeralda are art aficionados or “señoritos pedantes” [pedantic, rich young people], not rebels. It all depends on whether these young adults wish to sell, exhibit, or eagerly seek reviews in newspapers. Zúñiga calls for a solution to these problems if the school is to maintain its initial, good purposes.
As an instructor at the Escuela La Esmeralda, Francisco Zúñiga writes from the point of view that sculpture and the arts are permanent, beyond fads and periods. In his opinion, the most important representation is that of the human figure. It saddens him that the programs at La Esmeralda are designed to create aficionados or “señoritos pedantes.” During the 1950s, there is an ongoing discussion between realistic art and abstract art. This is where the students do not see the importance of technical training. They do not seem to grasp the slow nature of the artistic process, of turning a student into an artist, not just an aficionado or “señorito pedante.” Today, la Esmeralda is known as La Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado, ancillary of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA). The school originated in the Talleres de Escultura y Talla Directa [Schools for Carving, Cutting and Engraving] founded by Guillermo Ruiz in the former Convento de la Merced, in 1927. In the 1930s, it was relocated at La Esmeralda Alley, from which it took its name, and around 1943, it began to be formally structured as a school, establishing its first curriculum. During that period, classes were given at La Esmeralda by artists such as Diego Rivera, Francisco Zúñiga and Frida Kahlo, under the assumption that they would be providing art training to broad sectors of the population, mainly the lower and middle classes.