Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Los ataques a las pinturas de Jorge Camarena como síntoma de anormalidad social
    Obras de Diego Rivera : Textos polémicos 1921-1949, Vol. II. -- México : El Colegio Nacional, 2006.
    p. [252] - 257
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Rivera, Diego. "Los ataques a las pinturas de Jorge Camarena como síntoma de anormalidad social." In Obras de Diego Rivera: Textos polémicos 1921-1949, vol.2, [252]-257. Mexico City: El Colegio Nacional, 2006.
Editorial Categories [?]

Diego Rivera believed that the whole world knew there were paintings in the churches and palaces of the Catholic popes and kings that displayed nudity in a more obvious manner than the figures painted by Jorge González Camarena at the Guardiola building in Mexico City. He points out that the representation of sex in these murals is the result of abstract art. The depictions suggest the roles of man’s virility and woman’s fertility as the constructive forces of all life. The painter affirms that they are not a sexual appeal to viewer sentiment, but are on the contrary an intellectual and literary representation that would be pathological if described as immoral. He also states that anyone who thinks that human anatomy is immoral is either truly sick or worse, an idiot; Rivera likens them to Adolph Hitler, whose sickness reverberates through his rejection of that art that the German dictator called “Entartete” [degenerate]. He expounds on his ideas that art is a biological necessity and that the aesthetic sensation and emotion it produces nourishes the nervous system. He affirms that this sensation has been conditioned by both individual and collective human development. Nevertheless, just as with all things necessary to man, the class in power—with its religious morals and laws—tries to dominate by shackling free expression. This is why free creation and aesthetic pleasure push man in a subversive direction. Rivera, in fact, distinguishes three types of art in a society that is divided by class: (1) that which is agreeable to the dominant class and is pseudo superior and academic, (2) the art of the middle class, which is mediocre and banal and, (3) that art of great and essential purity that emanates from the class of workers and peasants—the people’s art. Rivera concludes by accusing the Latin American sub-bourgeoisie (who are dependent on the great foreign capitals) of trying to impose shackles of mediocrity in order to suffocate the art of the people and individual rebels. The muralist refers to those who have called for the destruction of González Camarena’s murals as well as of his artistic property and his human dignity.


In order to defend the murals of Jorge González Camarena (1908-1980), Diego Rivera (1886–1957) lays out his concept of art as a vital necessity for the development of mankind, and as a weapon for liberation and social freedom; he would expand upon these concepts in his writings on Pan-Americanism (See docs. nos. 747257, 747269 and 747263). 

Camarena’s murals were severely criticized by conservative factions of society and were even branded as pornographic. Rivera’s defense of him bore results but only for a short time; in 1957 a strong earthquake struck Mexico City, causing their disappearance forever. (Regarding this mural, see doc. 735991). 

Leticia Torres : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
D.R. © 2011 Banco de México, “Fiduciario” en el Fideicomiso relativo a los Museos Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo. Av. Cinco de Mayo No. 2, Col. Centro, Del. Cuauhtémoc 06059, México, D.F.
Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México