México Moderno. Vanguardia y Revolución traces the development of the various modernist esthetic proposals that took place in the first half of the 20th century in Mexico. The survey comprises a group of 170 representative pieces by more than 60 artists, including the major masters of the period: Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Leonora Carrington, among others.
The selection of works is meant to reflect the search for an authentic Mexicanness and the way in which vanguard and revolutionary interests changed the course of the arts. It also shows the strength and solidity of the modern period in Mexico, in which the folkloric element – persisting from pre-Columbian eras, and an indissoluble part of the country's cultural life – became a hallmark of identity. The works on exhibit are a proof that the local avant-garde was no mere imitation of what was going on in Europe, but a re-elaboration which precisely incorporated elements of the local culture. Crucial in this process was the role of the city, raucous and cosmopolitan, rife with artists and intellectuals nurturing themselves on the native culture, on the popular and religious customs and festivals, on the themes of the indigenous, on class conflicts and on active social and political life.
Mexican art in the first half of the 20th century is recognized chiefly for its contributions to monumental painting, the muralism inspired and propelled by the triumph of the Revolution, which fostered a project for building the modern nation. “While muralism is a prime example in this period, and the exhibition includes some transportable specimens of monumental painting, we were also looking to examine the many mechanisms of interrelationship and synergy that obtained among the various cultural expressions of the era. For this reason, we're displaying what was newly being propounded in literature, music, film and culture in general, offerings which are vital for understanding in a broad context the visual arts of the period," says curator Victoria Giraudo.
The project seeks, in addition, to review and reflect on various assumptions that have hitherto organized art history, in order to revaluate the production and activity of women artists who were marginalized in the canonical account and, thereby reposition them as veritable protagonists in the cultural scene. The expressions of the quest for identity and the appreciation of what is one's own were not exclusively confined to the visual arts nor even to the Mexican setting. The pieces included in the exhibition – paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, popular objects, magazines, photographs and documentation – further underscore this last aspect, showing the relationships between the main exponents of Mexican culture and the advanced intelligentsia in the rest of the Southern Cone.