45 Contemporary Mexican Artists : A twentieth-century renaissance by Virginia Stewart
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1951. Hardcover. 167 pages ; illustrations, portrait ; 29 cm. Clean, gently used, and without marking in book.
45 CONTEMPORARY MEXICAN ARTISTS
BY VIRGINIA STEWART
The most significant "art outburst of our time" came to Mexico in the wake of the political revolution. A fresh wind of revolt swept through the musty classrooms releasing Mexican art from the bondage of academic style and method, leaving behind a new freedom of expression, a new recognition of the unparalleled beauty of the land, the people, and their way of life. Out went the plaster models, the stylized techniques borrowed from France and Italy. In their stead grew the new concept: open-air schools where students painted native scenes, native designs, native models.
Pointing the way in this twentieth-century renaissance was Alfredo Ramos Martinez, founder of twenty-seven open-air schools and preacher of the gospel of freedom to students hungry for inspiration (see page 2). Under his tutelage and that of Dr. Atl (foster parent of the baby volcano, Paricutin, see page 11), Mexican artists adopted new styles, discovered new media, and resurrected the old.
Orozco and Rivera introduced political issues; Montenegro and Best-Maugard chose the neglected Indian crafts and showed the world the simple strength of native design.
Like the country itself, the art of Mexico is still developing, still offering inspiration for the artist who recognizes truth and beauty in Indian designs, erupting cornfields, and crumbling, flaking walls. In this book we meet the men and women who kindled and added fuel to the fire of Mexico's artistic reawakening. Most of them are even now in the very flowering of their genius.
A background of artistic research in Europe, years of art reporting in America, and a sympathetic nature equipped Virginia Stewart for asking the right kind of questions when she began in 1945 to assemble the material for 7orty-five Contemporary "Mexican Artists. But the answers were not always easy to obtain. The artists were scattered widely over Mexico and other parts of the world. Some of them were al-most unknown; others were inaccessible. The native reserve of many stood in her way.
But friendliness and perseverance overcame these obstacles. From Dr. Atl's lips she learned why he bought the volcano, Paricutin. She saw Siqueiros grinding whalebone for his pigments. Ferreira showed her the sketches he had once used to enliven his wrapping paper. Regalado recalled for her the time when, for 25 pesos, he painted a 20-by-40-foot mural and 15 medallions for the proprietor of a pulque bar.
All this and much more she absorbed and has recorded with such skill that the reader feels he is in "happy communication" with these "human beings busy working at art."
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