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.
This text explains the theoretical basis for Best Maugard’s drafting method prior to the development of his manual explained in the following section. The theory is based on a platonic and universal perspective of art that expresses universal harmony through the aesthetic practice of humanity. Best Maugard maintains there are seven basic elements of primitive art throughout all eras; it develops in its own way an expression of the unique identities of different places and historical moments. The individualization of this process is the result of both the cultural and economic interchange among different countries; by this means, indigenous art becomes folk art that reflects diverse influences. Nevertheless, these combinations should be interpreted through the context of one specific place. As a result, the symbolic meanings of different elements of indigenous production—hieroglyphs for example—lose their original meaning and become stylized forms that produce an aesthetic experience, which is, at the same time, national and universal.
This text is fundamental to understanding the historical and aesthetic concepts that served as the foundation of Adolfo Best Maugard’s (1881–1964) drafting method, which was used in elementary and high schools in Mexico City during the first half of the 1920s. The idealist vision of Mexicanness that is entrenched in forms derived from ancient models and transformed by local historical conditions, served as the basis for modern Mexican art: an art that would also have abstraction and synthetic foundations that evolved in the following years in the hands of many of the artists working as teachers that had used Best’s method. They included: Manuel Rodríguez Lozano (1896–1972), Abraham Ángel, Agustín Lazo (1896–1971), Miguel Covarrubias (1904–1957) and Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991), among others.