Cosmopolitanism in Mexican Visual Culture (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture)
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Since the colonial era, Mexican art has emerged from an ongoing process of negotiation between the local and the global, which frequently involves invention, synthesis, and transformation of diverse discursive and artistic traditions. In this pathfinding book, María Fernández uses the concept of cosmopolitanism to explore this important aspect of Mexican art, in which visual culture and power relations unite the local and the global, the national and the international, the universal and the particular. She argues that in Mexico, as in other colonized regions, colonization constructed power dynamics and forms of violence that persisted in the independent nation-state. Accordingly, Fernández presents not only the visual qualities of objects, but also the discourses, ideas, desires, and practices that are fundamental to the very existence of visual objects.
Fernández organizes episodes in the history of Mexican art and architecture, ranging from the seventeenth century to the end of the twentieth century, around the consistent but unacknowledged historical theme of cosmopolitanism, allowing readers to discern relationships among various historical periods and works that are new and yet simultaneously dependent on their predecessors. She uses case studies of art and architecture produced in response to government commissions to demonstrate that established visual forms and meanings in Mexican art reflect and inform desires, expectations, memories, and ways of being in the world—in short, that visual culture and cosmopolitanism are fundamental to processes of subjectification and identity.
retablos. Although the ordinances for builders (albañiles) of 1599 required masters to know about the design, proportions, and constructions of various kinds of arches, the literature is unclear as to what kind of artist customarily built the triumphal arches.70 Of eleven maestros mayores practicing in seventeenth-century Mexico City, only one is credited with building a triumphal arch. The master in question is Andrés de Concha, who practiced as a painter and sculptor before becoming an
deep and weighed 21,228 kg.83 Tiffany exhibited the curtain in New York in 1911 before installing it in Mexico the next year under the direction of the artist Walter G. Wilber. According to Boari, the theater realized under his direction cost the Mexican government 25 million Italian liras.84 Although Boari initially envisioned a more daring and synthetic building in the style of art nouveau, he graciously accepted the compromises that the commission required. In his final report on the
description acknowledges the relationality of a place as well as the intangible dimensions, feelings, memories, dreams, fantasies, and myths that give it meaning in addition to form.2 In the nineteenth century archaeological remains of the pre-Hispanic past became central to official representations of the Mexican nation. This was not an entirely new phenomenon. As discussed in Chapter 1, images from preHispanic antiquity were integral to representations of New Spain during the colonial period.
the indigenes. In a country where more than half of the population was indigenous, an appropriation of this history for the task of nation building could only occur if there was a simultaneous movement of destruction against the natives (annihilation, integration, acculturation). Yet underneath both of these movements lurked an overwhelming fear of retribution. As in Bataille’s theorizations of heterogeneous entities, elite and popular culture alike often attributed mysterious powers to
dominated by Western European perspectives, will be necessary. In studies of contemporary art, the cosmopolitanism of Mexican and other Latin American art is assumed but seldom overtly discussed. Jacqueline Barnitz’s survey book Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America, for example, includes a chapter titled “The Avant-Garde of the 1920s: Cosmopolitan or National Identity?”, but she does not explore the concept of cosmopolitanism.48 In a groundbreaking essay, the art historian Natalia Majluf