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The article written by the researcher Pilar García de Germenos presents the cultural biography of Alfredo Ramos Martínez from 1910 to 1920, to help our understanding of the changes he implemented at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. During those years, he was first assistant director (1911), then director (1913) of that institution, under the government of the usurper, [President] Victoriano Huerta (1913-14). The change of the name from “Escuela” [School] to “Academia” [Academy] was emblematic, since in many ways, the de facto Huerta regime wished to go back to the dictatorial government of Porfirio Díaz. Published in 1914, the new curriculum was an open one. Now, students would be able to choose among branches of art such as Decorative Arts, the History of the Oriental Arts, and Mexican Archaeology. With workshops now included, classes could be either indoors or outdoors. This explains the creation of the Escuela al Aire Libre de Santa Anita [Santa Anita Open-Air School of Painting] (on the shores of the La Viga Canal). Santa Anita was the first educational establishment inspired by types more characteristic of race and the people.


It is interesting to see that there was no radical rupture in Mexico with the academic system at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. Instead, with classes such as the History of Oriental Art, the curriculum began to include other perspectives that would influence the training of the avant-garde. Other important changes were the nascent study of Mexican archaeology and the opening of the Escuela de Santa Anita. The launching of the Open-Air School was evidence that the Academy curriculum was moving closer to artists as well as the people and their customs. Starting in the nineteenth century, the writer and teacher Ignacio Manuel Altamirano (1834-93) had already issued a call to artists to establish a national school of art in Mexico. The second decade of the twentieth century also introduced its version of that identity project.

Esther Acevedo : Dirección de Estudios Históricos, INAH / CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of María del Pilar García, Mexico City, Mexico
Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México