New Exhibition to Explore the Changing Representations of Women in 20th–Century Mexican Art
The Dallas Museum of Art will present a new exhibition surveying representations of women in Mexican Modernism. Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art is inspired by the loan of the monumental painting Flores Mexicanas by Alfredo Ramos Martínez to the DMA from the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. Recently rediscovered, Flores Mexicanas is being exhibited for only the second time in nearly a century. The exhibition will pair two galleries: one dedicated to the work of Ramos Martínez, one of the fathers of Mexican Modernism, and an accompanying gallery of more than 25 paintings, works on paper, and textiles by other renowned artists working in Mexico during the first half of the 20th century. Open to the public on February 16 and included in free general admission, the exhibition provides visitors the opportunity to explore the meanings behind depictions of women created during a transformative period in Mexican history.
Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art also marks the inaugural presentation by Dr. Mark A. Castro, the DMA’s first Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art. The curatorial position was established in 2019 as part of an expanded commitment to researching, showing, and acquiring art from Latin America.
“We’re incredibly excited to build a story around this beautiful masterpiece by Ramos Martínez and the way in which it becomes a vehicle for exploring issues of gender in modern Mexican art,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “The painting’s fascinating history also gives us a chance to highlight the influence of Ramos Martínez on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border and contribute to important contemporary conversations about the fluidity of that border through the lens of art.”
Added Dr. Castro, “This has been an amazing project for kicking off my time at the Dallas Museum of Art. Alfredo Ramos Martínez was among the most versatile artists of his day and Flores Mexicanas is one of his crowning achievements. He worked on the painting for nearly fifteen years, beginning it during the Mexican Civil War. In many ways feels like an ode to a period in his life, and in the history of his country, that was ending.”
A portion of the show will trace the international career of Alfredo Ramos Martínez, whose practice dramatically transformed after his move from Mexico City to Los Angeles in 1929. The gallery will contrast the romantic portraits of society debutants that Martínez painted in his native country with the stylized scenes of rural life in Mexico that were popular with his Hollywood patrons. The highlight will be Flores Mexicanas, the last painting Ramos Martínez completed before moving to California. This ornate 9-by-12-foot work was given as a wedding gift in 1929 to the famed aviators Anne and Charles Lindbergh, who met in Mexico City, by the Mexican president, Emilio Portes Gil. The painting depicts four sumptuously dressed women in an idyllic landscape, surrounded by luscious flowers, and has been interpreted as a representation of Mexico’s diverse racial heritage as well as an allegory of the four seasons. The Lindberghs later entrusted Flores Mexicanas to the Missouri Historical Society, where it remained off view. Recently unearthed, brought out of storage, and conserved, Flores Mexicanas went on view this past summer for the first time in 87 years.
The adjacent gallery will feature a selection of works by some of Mexico’s most celebrated Modern artists, including paintings by María Izquierdo and Diego Rivera and works on paper by Frida Kahlo, Francisco Dosamantes, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. In some works, images of women are used to address common themes in Mexican post-revolutionary art, including politics, indigeneity, labor, and rural life. At the same time, self-portraits and other works by women artists assert the role of the new modern woman in Mexico and her contributions to the creation of Mexico’s new national identity.
Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art will be on view beginning February 16, 2020 through September 20, 2020. In addition to works from the DMA’s collection of Latin American art, the exhibition will include loans from the National Museum of Art (MUNAL) in Mexico City, the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and private collections in Mexico and the U.S. Following the Dallas exhibition, in late fall the painting Flores Mexicanas will travel to MUNAL to be included in a new exhibition inspired by the DMA’s presentation.