Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Mexican Modern Art 1900-1950 Opens at the National Gallery of Canada 25 February 2000

Ottawa, Canada - August 19, 1999


 « L'art moderne mexicain, 1900-1950 prendra l'affiche au Musée des beaux-arts du Canada le 25 février 2000 »  
The National Gallery of Canada is proud to announce the presentation of Mexican Modern Art 1900-1950, on view from 25 February to 17 May 2000. A diverse and stunning exhibition, co-produced with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, it will feature some 280 works by fifty of Mexico's finest artists. This selection of over 160 paintings, 20 sculptures, 30 photographs, and 60 prints, will be the first display of Mexican modern art in Canada since the early forties. Well-known artists Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and José Clemente Orozco will be represented, as well as artists less known to Canadian audiences. Loans have been acquired from major public and some private collections in the United States and Mexico, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gallery, and the Instituto nacional de Bellas Artes. Mexican Modern Art 1900-1950 is organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with guest curator Luis-Martin Lozano.
" With the presentation of this important exhibition, we hope to increase awareness in Canada of the forces shaping the artistic landscape in Mexico between 1900 and 1950", stated Pierre Théberge, Director, National Gallery of Canada. "This is when several overlapping generations of artists inspired by the Mexican Revolution and its aftermath, brought about a "renaissance" of the arts in Mexico. It is their aesthetic ideas that constitute the real history of Mexican modern art."

Since the 1920's the assessment and understanding of Mexican modern art, and painting in particular, has been based primarily on the achievements of the Muralist movement and "Los Tres Grandes": Diego de Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. However, a more accurate appreciation of the development of Mexican Modernism dictates that Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros be viewed within a broader context. From the point of view of art history, it would be far too restrictive to reduce modern painting in Mexico to Muralism. Hence, a broad panorama of the artistic achievements in the first half of this century is timely.

The exhibition is divided into four parts. The first part of the exhibition - Early Modernism: Art between Cosmopolitan and Nationalistic Trends, 1900-1920 - will portray the state of the visual arts in Mexico at the beginning of the century, when a number of formal and aesthetic changes were occurring under the influence of the main artistic trends in Europe. Even before the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, there existed a process of incipient modernism in the arts. Artists of note: Saturnino Hérran, José Luis Figueroa, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Gerardo Murillo (Dr. Atl), Ángel Zárraga, Roberto Montenegro, Diego Rivera.

The second section of the exhibition - The Mexican Renaissance: Art in Post-revolutionary Times, 1921-1934 - will be key, because it presents the decisive contribution to modern Mexican culture of the Muralist movement. However, the term "renaissance" caught on, not just because of the murals, but also because of the general cultural context, artistic as well as educational, in which collective interests were seen as converging in the birth of a new concept of nationhood. As well as drawings for the murals and an especially produced video about them, the second section will feature artists such as José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, Fernando Leal, Fermín Revueltos, Antonio Ruiz, Gabriel Fernández Ledesma, and others.

Images for a New Era: Modern Photography and the Revival of Printmaking comprises the third section. Included are pivotal works by such graphic artists as Emilio Amero, Gabriel Fernández Ledesma, Leopoldo Méndez, Carlos Orozco Romero, and photographers - Tina Modotti, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Agustin Jiminez - among others.

The fourth and final section - The "Mexican Style": the Profusion of Mexican Modernism, 1935-1950 - continues to explore the work of many of the artists from the second section, while examining for the first time a number of painters whose artistry blossomed in the later period. It demonstrates that the 1940s were a time of affirmation of modernity and a decade of progression to the future. The inclusion of mature works of the modern masters of the late 1940s will show a degree of historical process that belies the concept of La Ruptura in 1950. Artists such as Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo, Carlos Mérida, Maria Izquierdo, Guillermo Meza, Manuel González Serrano, Alfonso Michel - as well as Rivera, Orozco and Siquieros - will be included in this final section.

The National Gallery has organized a complementary photography exhibition entitled Mexico as Muse, which will examine the way three internationally renowned artists were inspired by their experience of Mexico. Drawn from the Gallery's permanent collection, the exhibition will feature works by photographers Edward Weston, Paul Strand, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. It will be on view from 11 February to 7 May.
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