Although the main discussion centers were the cities of New York or Paris, the modern thinking in art didn´t only took place there, its aspirations reached other latitudes that, simultaneously, were added to the break up with the figurative tradition of naturalistic representation and configured the new artistic languages that we know today as Avant Garde movements. Mexico was one of these countries.
The exhibition Los Modernos, organized by the Museo Nacional de Arte in collaboration with the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lyon, city of de Lyon, France, offers a sample of the development of modern art in the first half of the XX century, from a selection of significant examples of European and Mexican art.
The curatorship is in charge of Agustín Arteaga, headmaster of the Museo Nacional de Arte and Sylvie Ramond, headmaster of the Museé des Beaux-Arts of Lyon, in collaboration with Paulina Bravo, chief of the curatorial department of the MUNAL, and Ariadna Patiño Guadarrama, —curators associated to the project-, Los Modernos is composed by nine thematic cores that do not answer to a chronological order but to aesthetics discourses that allow to appreciate the statements and dialogues shared by Mexicans and Europeans about the path of the plastic arts, as well as their contributions in the development of the Avant Garde movements such as post- impressionism, fauvism and cubism among others.
Which were the common explorations between these two continents? What generated this ideological change and which were its implications in the artistic field? This questions will be boarded throughout the more than 140 pieces that compose this exhibit and which provenance comes both from the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lyon, and the Museo Nacional de Arte’s collection; as well as other Mexican collections such as the Museo de Arte Moderno and Rufino Tamayo, and internationals as the Musée Picasso and the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou of París.
The Mexican Revolution and the First and Second World Wars, altered the way of thinking of the artists and their plastic creativity. Even though the French artists are considered the predecessors of modern art, the Mexican artists were not oblivious to the new possibilities that art found to expand its field of action and some of them, like Diego Rivera, Ángel Zárraga, Gerardo Murillo or Lola Cueto, knew from first hand such precepts in their trips and journeys in Europe. Some others, like the students from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes —formerly the old Academia de San Carlos— from teachers that studied in Europe or even came from there, knew the same concerns they had in the old continent, as is the case of Saturnino Herrán and María Izquierdo to mention a few.
There were ass well, European Artists like André Breton (France, 1896) Wolfgang Paalen (Austria, 1905), Leonora Carrington (England, 1917) or Remedios Varo Spain, 1908), among others, that visited or lived a part of their lifes in Mexico, where not only did they bring new aesthetic proposals from their own countries but also participated from ideas that were already being generated here to give a new turn to the European explorations.
Paisaje, the first of these cores, offers a set of pieces of artists such as Albert Gleizes, Rivera or Albert Marquet, that show the fundamental changes in the relationship between drawing and painting that occurred in the shift from the XIX to the XX century. This works expose the early process of transition of some modern artists to more radicalized ways to conceive the space, as cubism would do later, where there is no longer an interest to copy reality but begin to reinterpret it.
The feminine nude was a topic of interest for modern art, because it was linked to the bohemian life and the creative liberty free from the aristocratic moral. The core Desnudo exposes the diverse ways in which the female body was approached once the moderns began to abandon the classical anatomical proportion rules instituted by the Academy and began to propose new approximations to gender through fading figures and the superposition of multiple perspectives. This block is composed by works of artists such as Gerardo Murillo (Dr. Atl), Jean Puy, Raoul Dufy, Ángel Zárraga, Pierre Combet-Descombes, Rufino Tamayo, among others.
The popularization of photography in the XIX century caused the pictoric portrait to abandon the function of representing with the greatest naturalism possible –this was better done by the photographic machine- and opened a field of possibilities that led the modern painters to focus on the emotional and expressive qualities of the subject. The third core, Retrato, oscillates around this topic, it shows the variety of aesthetic solutions and plastic explorations on color, light, chiaroscuros or anatomical disproportion, that the artists used to represent subjectivity. In this core we will find pieces of artists such as Henri Matisse, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Gino Severini, Alfonso Michel, Suzanne Valadon and Alfredo Zalce among others.
Surrealismo deepens in the interchange that took place in our country between national and European artists. The Mexican Surrealism although distant to the specific adscription conceived in Europe and New York was consolidated thanks to the presence of foreign artists like Wolfgang Paalen, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo. Besides pieces from these artists, this section includes some examples of the remains of this movement in Europe after World War Two, through Works of André Masson, Wilfredo Lam, Victor Brauner and Max Schoendorff.
In the other hand, the core Luz y Color shows the formal explorations about these two elements (light and color) that were no longer approached as a tool in service of the hegemonic of drawing, always controlled to mimic reality, but to progressively become protagonists of the painting thanks to their plastic potential. In these sections we find art works from artists like Robert Delaunay, Lola Cueto, Pierre Bonnard, Roberto Montenegro, among others.
In Línea pieces of authors such as Picasso, Fernand Léger, José Clemente Orozco or Alonso Michel will be exposed. In this section, the pieces compose a series of examples about the new position that the line acquired in the modern art that -as is the case of color and light- stopped being limited to the technique of drawing to ascend as an autonomous unit because of its pictoric qualities.
The refection on space was one of the concerns that interested the moderns. Cubism is the best example of this interest. Espacio, eight core, shows these explorations through works of Georges Braque, Henri Hayden, Emilio Di Cavalcanti, Léger, Diego Rivera and others.
Finally, the core Abstracción shows art works of this artistic style that is totally opposite to figurative art. It includes pieces of authors such as Pierre Soulages, Olivier Debré, Antoni Tàpies, Francis Bacon and the Mexicans Manuel Felguérez, Vicente Rojo or Fernando García Ponce.
In different directions, this exhibition will be an encounter with all the senses, to know the creative spirit among the national and foreign artists and the dialogue that takes place in each core allows to generate a series of proposals where the MUNAL will involve all the public. Cita a ciegas is one of these, in schedules that will be revealed, the exhibition will hide the name of its artists to highlight the mastery of each of the works, promoting new experiences that bring the spectator and the pieces closer in a different way.
Also, as part of the Academic Program, there will be a film cycle, conferences, guided tours and workshops. There will be as well, a catalogue in bilingual edition and downloadable material in the web page www.munal.com.mx
Los Modernos will be in exhibition from November 11th to April 3rd 2016.
After its stay in the MUNAL, Los Modernos will travel to the Museo de las Artes of the Universidad de Guadalajara (MUSA) in Jalisco.
Exhibition organized by the Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico in collaboration with the Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon City of Lyon , France.
Courtesy of the Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico