Mexican Arts

An Exhibition Organized for and Circulated by

The American Federation of Arts



The exhibition, Mexican Arts (1930), was developed and coordinated by Dwight W. Morrow (U.S. ambassador to Mexico), Count Rene D’Harnoncourt, and Mr. Saint-Gaudens (director of the Fine Arts Department of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh). The Mexican government’s collaboration was indispensable to this effort. It authorized Mexican museums, such as the National Museum of Mexico, to lend works of incalculable value, and allowed the art to travel to the United States.

The objectives of the organizers, in conducting this immense presentation of 1,261 items, were to promote closer ties, and strengthen the bonds, between the United States and Mexico.The exhibition provided a framework for future Latin American exhibitions in the United States.

In the introduction of the catalogue to the exhibition of 1930, Rene D’Harnoncourt commented that it was an exhibition “of Mexican arts, not of arts in Mexico”. While these words served to highlight the accomplishments of Mexican civilization, they also introduced a topic that would become popular in the art world of the twenty first century. The notion the geographical borders might represent inappropriate delineations of cultures. Culture surpass geographic limitations.

The exhibition divided the presentation in two sections. Applied Arts (popular arts) and Fine Arts. The table of contents in the exhibition catalogue provided twenty-two entries under the title “Applied Arts”, and seven entries under the title “Fine Arts”.

The listing below specifies the types of artwork, in the “Applied Arts” category, the amount of items presented (in parenthesis), and the state of Mexico where the art originated (in italics).


Under “Applied Arts” (981 items) were included:

Early Featherwork (4)From the Michoacan city of Patzcuaro

Early Iron, Copper, Bronze, Silver, and Gold Work (167)
From Oaxaca, Puebla, Michoacan and Chiapas

Early Ivory, Bone, Stone, and Wood Carvings (32)
From Michoacan

Early Lacquered and Painted Objects (31)
From the Michoacan cities of Patzcuaro and Uruapam

Early Leatherwork (3) Provenance Uncertain

Early Pottery (41) From Jalisco, Puebla, Guanajuato, Mexico

Early Straw Work (5) From Guerrero

Early Textiles, Embroideries, and Beadwork (71)From Coahuila, Guanajuato, Mexico, San Luis de Potosi, Oaxaca and Puebla

Early and Contemporary Masks (19)
From Michoacan, Veracruz, Sonora and Guerrero

Early and Contemporary Costumes (7)
From Yucatan, Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca
And Puebla

Early and Contemporary Furniture (13)
From Jalisco and Michoacan

Early Basketry and Rush Decorations (30)
From Mexico, Guanajuato, Puebla and Guerrero

Contemporary Copper, Tin, Steel, and Silver Work (35)
From Guerrero, Puebla, Oaxaca, Michoacan

Contemporary Featherwork (1)
From Mexico

Contemporary Glassware (15)
From Mexico, Jalisco and Puebla

Contemporary Jewelry (11)
From Mexico, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Hidalgo
and Michoacan

Contemporary Lacquered and Painted Objects (61)
From Michoacan, Chiapas and Guerrero

Contemporary Leatherwork (1)
Provenance unknown

Contemporary Pottery (65)
From Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Jalisco, Puebla, Guanajuato, Mexico and Tlaxcala

Contemporary Textiles, Embroideries,
and Beadwork (32)
From Mexico, Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz, Queretaro, Tlaxcala and Michoacan

Contemporary Toys and Marquettes (323)
From Mexico

Contemporary Objects Of Various Materials (14)
From Chiapas, Veracruz, Michoacan, Jalisco, Puebla, Mexico and Guanajuato


The listing below specifies the types of artwork presented and the amount of items presented in each particular category (in parenthesis).

Under “Fine Arts” (280 items) were included:

Early Paintings
-Colonial Primitives (4)

-Genre Paintings (1)

-Portraits (5)

-Retablos And Other Small Popular Paintings (34)

Early Sculpture (4)

Contemporary Paintings (90)

Contemporary Sculpture (26)

Contemporary Woodcuts, Etchings, and Engravings (78)

Books and Periodicals (26)

Children’s Paintings and Drawings (12)

The contemporary (in 1930) painters included in this exhibition were Abraham Angel, Abelardo Avilar, Pablo Camareno, Julio Castellanos, Jean Charlot, Joaquin Clausell, Dosamantes, Maria Izquierdo, Agustin Lazo, Manuel Rodriguez Lozano, Ignacio Marquez, Carlos Merida, Pablo O’Higgins, Carlos Orozco-Romero, Maximo Pacheco, Everardo Ramirez, Fermin Revueltas, Miguel Covarrubias, Rufino Tamayo, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Roberto Montenegro and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

The contemporary (in 1930) sculptors presented were Rafael Archundia, J. Trinidad Corona, Luis Hidalgo, Fernando Leon, Mardonio Magana, Miguel Magana, Eucario Olvera, Rebeca Ortiz, Eliseo De La Rosa and Guillermo Ruiz.

In the areas of woodcuts, engravings and etchings, the artists presented were Francisco Diaz DeLeon, Manuel Echauri, Justino Fernandez, Geronimo Flores, Fernando Leal, Roberto Montenegro, Ocampo, Paco, Feliciano Pena, Guadalupe Posada, Andres Torres and Isabel Villasenor.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, was the the first host for the Mexican Arts exhibition, which opened on October 13,1930. It subsequently traveled to:

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh

The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland

The Corcoran Gallery,Washington

Milwaukee Art Institute, Milwaukee

The J.B. Speed Memorial Museum, Louisville

Pan-American Round Table, San Antonio