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)
Early Ivory, Bone, Stone, and Wood
Early Lacquered and Painted Objects
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)
Early and Contemporary Costumes (7)
Early and Contemporary Furniture (13)
Early Basketry and Rush Decorations
Contemporary Copper, Tin, Steel, and
Silver Work (35)
Contemporary Featherwork (1)
Contemporary Glassware (15)
Contemporary Jewelry (11)
Contemporary Lacquered and Painted
Contemporary Leatherwork (1)
Contemporary Pottery (65)
Contemporary Textiles, Embroideries,
Contemporary Toys and Marquettes (323)
Contemporary Objects Of Various Materials
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:
-Genre Paintings (1)
-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
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: