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The Aberlardo Rodríguez market was conceived as part of an urban development plan that would allow for the control of the itinerant commerce that encroached upon Mexico City downtown as well as the revaluation of the property within the zone. Its construction began in 1933 and reflected the desire to modernize the public markets while incorporating advances in health and hygiene as well as functionality toward the purpose of distributing materials throughout the zone in order to facilitate the collection of taxes. The project included a nursery so that the small children of the ambulatory vendors would have access to health and educational services, as well as a civic center. As part of a program for continuing education, young muralists (mostly students of Diego Rivera) were contracted to create murals that would teach about nutrition. Although at that time governmental facilities and schools already contained 135 murals, this was the first market to include a mural. Mexican artists Miguel Tzab, Pablo O’Higgins, Antonio Pujol, Ángel Bracho, Ramón Alva Guadarrama, Pedro Rendón, and Raúl Gamboa; North American artists Marion and Grace Greenwood; and the Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi made up the team. Using extensive archival documentation, researcher Esther Acevedo reconstructs the production process of each one and the subjects they explored, as well as the complex political bureaucracy and battles that the artists confronted. The author states that the project remained unfinished due to the ideological radicalization of some artists; this did not please the conservative president (1932-34) who gave his name to the market.


The review of the newspaper and archive materials that Esther Acevedo undertook for this essay permits a different reading of the process of production and the ideology behind the murals at the Abelardo Rodríguez market. It shows in detail the development of the art form and how Muralism was becoming radicalized in the 1930s, to the point that it became a problem for the government who patronized the mural works. The attempt to reconcile revolutionary government rhetoric with that of the artists—who were becoming more interested in participating in conflicts and social complaints, not only with respect to the problems of the proletariat but also in international conflicts such Fascism—led Muralism in new directions. The open debate between Diego Rivera (1886–1957) and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) on how Muralism should be led to the establishment of political alliances and battles within the group of artists. In the case of the Aberlardo Rodríguez market, even though Rivera might have acted as the guarantor and the one who approved projects, some of the artists on the team actually sympathized more with Siqueiros’s ideals. In this article, the author distinguishes between different types of Muralism, whose changes correspond not only to artistic concerns but even more to the political ideals of the painters and the interests of the state; these corresponded with the interests of patronage as well as the given circumstances.

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