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    Historia y valoración de las Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre / Salvador Novo
    Monografía de las Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre. -- 1ª ed. --México : Editorial “Cultura” (Publicaciones de la Secretaría de Educación Pública), 1926.
    p. 11-14 : ill.
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Novo, Salvador. "Historia y valoración de las Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre." In Monografía de las Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre, edited by Alfredo Ramos Martínez, 11-14. Mexico City: Editorial Cultura/Publicaciones de la Secretaría de Educación Pública, 1926.

This text by writer and chronicler, Salvador Novo, provides a brief history of the Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre [Open-Air Schools of Painting], beginning with their origins in 1913 and continuing through to the time of the writing of this text. He underscores the complete freedom that the schools encouraged: there were no requirements for admission, nor any fixed schedules. The schools would not present any artistic model nor would the pupils watch the teacher paint. Novo emphasizes that the value of the works produced in this context stems from their diversity and individuality. This did not correspond to any preexisting artistic model. Although Novo recognizes a certain conceptual connection to the anti-academic proposals of the European avant-garde (exemplified by Picasso, Matisse and Rousseau), he states that the creativity and expression found in the works produced at the schools actually owe more to the pre-colonial past. This is something that undoubtedly finds continuity in the contemporary indigenous peoples, in contrast to the bourgeois tastes that were rooted in the vice-regal past. The photographs taken during the Escuelas exhibition in 1925 testify to the diversity of the students with regard to their age, sex and race.


This text, written by Salvador Novo (1904–1974), the poet, essayist and government official, provides a brief historical account of the evolution of the Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre, although it focuses on the circumstances that existed during the years the book was being written. He emphasized the complete freedom that the students at the schools enjoyed with regard to models, both national and international. Novo likewise celebrates the results as the worthy continuation of the indigenous tradition. He refers to the diversity of the schools, both in terms of their production and their student bodies; but at the same time, his text highlights an indigenous discourse that clearly does not coincide with his statements about the heterogeneity of the students or the diversity of their expression and style.

The Monografía de las Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre [Monograph of the Open-Air Schools] represents a specific stage in the Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre, which had originally opened in 1913–14 in the Santa Anita neighborhood in Mexico City as an alternative teaching method within the program of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. Later, in the early-1920s, these centers were revived and fomented an iconography that focused on rural themes as well as a reevaluation of vice-regal architecture. When this book was published midway into the decade, several of the young artists who had received their training in the schools became directors of various schools, which principally focused on teaching children and youths. They promoted the aesthetic evaluation of their environment, with an emphasis on expression rather than on formal academic values, in order to generate works with a great diversity of styles. In general, however, there was a more naïve and crude aesthetic bent that would be of importance for the formal characteristics of the artists trained at the academy.

Karen Cordero Reiman : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of José Manuel Hinojosa Álvarez, Mexico City, Mexico
Biblioteca personal de Karen Cordero Reiman