Thursday, 16 June 2011

02__Mexican frescoes

I admired a lot of frescoes in central Mexico City last April. Although I was not allowed to photograph the frescoes in the old national prep school -- San Ildefonso College -- where Mexican Muralism began, I did photograph other fresco masterpieces.

Vlady (son of Victor Serge) painted fresco in the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada:

Oil paintings were installed in the arches of the mural:

Diego Rivera's fresco masterpiece in the National Palace:

Detail showing brush strokes and a crack:

Diego Rivera's masterpiece in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Originally Rivera painted this fresco in the Rockefeller Center in NYC. However Nelson Rockefeller (future Vice President of the United States) insisted that Rivera remove the portrait of Lenin in the mural, and then had the mural destroyed when Rivera refused:

Another Diego Rivera fresco in the Palacio de Bellas Artes:

Jose Clemente Orozco's fresco in the Palacio de Bellas Artes:

This is my favorite Orozco mural, in the Escuela Normal de los Maestros. I am not sure that it is a fresco though:

Orozco frescoes in the same school:

Orozco fresco in the famous Casa de los Azulejos (now a Sanborns):

Rufino Tamayo fresco (1935) in the contiguous building behind the National Palace:

Jose Gordillo fresco in the Museo de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público:

The below fresco survives in the old ex-Academia de San Carlos building. I ascended those stairs almost every day when I was going to that art school, and felt the big presence of the mural, but did not realize that it was a fresco. The theme did not fit with the populous narrative of the Mexican School, so I did not think about it much. Nevertheless, that image surfaced violently in a dream. While navigating through the labyrinth of that ancient building, I was lured by a light, at the end of a forgotten damp tunnel leading deep into the past. I soon exited into a remote second courtyard, only to find myself in the middle of a medieval jousting contest, where the two knights were dressed exactly as in the mural. In the late 80s, half of the art building was being renovated; but it took me a year and a half to discover the second courtyard, which was completely sealed off from the crowded streets of Mexico City. Thus both that building and fresco weighed strongly on my subconscious, and surfaced together in one of my most vivid dreams.

It gets even more surreal. This was the only unknown fresco I photographed. Dennis Orlowski painted it, but that does not sound like a Spanish surname. Ironically, as soon as I returned to Albuquerque, I attended a drawing session run by his son.

Reproduction of the Bonampak frescoes at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico city (not real frescoes):

Metro stop in Mexico City, with another reproduction of the Bonampak frescoes:

On the way back, I stopped at Alamos, Sonora, where they have been working with fresco recently. The picture is of the lime pit, covered in concrete to preserve the lime while it slakes:

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