An impressive — perhaps even staggering — painting retrospective, “Los Modernos” (The Moderns), has just opened at the graceful Museo de las Artes (MUSA) in Guadalajara and will remain until July 10.
Consisting of roughly 110 pieces by 20 big-name European and Mexican artists from the tumultuous first half of the twentieth century, the show should satiate art lovers “of a certain age” — old enough both to appreciate it and yet still consider it modern!
This marriage of heavy hitters from Europe (Picasso, Braque, Léger, Matisse) and Mexico (Rivera, Siquieros, Dr. Atl, Orozco) comes by way of the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (Lyon Museum of Fine Arts) teamed up with the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City.
However, the show is no marriage of convenience but instead an accurate reflection of the fact that, although Paris was the main center of art in the era that broke with the figurative tradition of naturalistic representation and produced Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism and the like, the new artistic language spilling out of Europe produced authentic vanguards in other areas.
Mexico was one of them. The show is notable for the absence of American and Anglo artists (except for Irish-born Francis Bacon who, notably, died in Spain) and apparently reflects the fact that Mexico’s ties with Europe (especially Spain and France) have always been just as strong, if not stronger, than those with its Anglo neighbors to the north.
The 10 rooms of “Los Modernos” are divided into themes (landscapes, nudes, portraits, etc.) that cover familiar territory, such as modernism’s bohemian and subversive side, its focus on the urban, its forays outdoors au plein air and into the unconscious and the irrational, its divorce with figurative representation, and more.
Although visitors will not find any iconic paintings at this show (Picasso’s “Old Guitarist” is not there) they will probably find the material familiar enough to be enjoyable yet surprising enough to avoid boredom. In my case, I had no idea that Diego Rivera had done any landscapes, and discovered some beauties.
“Los Modernos” shows until July 10 at Museo de las Artes, Juárez 975, corner of Enrique Diaz de Leon, Guadalajara. Tel. (33) 3134 1664. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays. No charge to enter.