Mexico: multiple modernities

CHAPTER 5: Surrealism and Mexico

After the Spanish Civil War and World War II began, several European artists and writers arrived in Mexico as refugees, and some decided to stay. Among them were women with links to the surrealist movement, who developed their painting fully after they settled in Mexico City. Although Surrealism did not become a unified movement in Latin America, Mexican artists sometimes adopted some of its visual techniques, finding a sense of kinship in the surrealists’ taste for uncanny images.

This art object can not be displayed
La cañada [The Glen]

Alice Rahon
Chenecey-Buillon, France, 1904 - 1987, Mexico City

La cañada [The Glen]
25.2 cm x 36.8 cm (9 15/16 in. x 14 1/2 in.)
University Purchase, 1966; Transfer from the Harry Ransom Center, 1982

French poet Alice Rahon traveled to Mexico in 1939 and decided to stay when war broke out in Europe, joining a group of fellow expatriates interested in Surrealism. She began painting in the 1940s. In this almost abstract work, she borrows the condensed style and technique of ancient petroglyphs. She lightly scratches the surface with patterns that suggest a nocturnal landscape of trees, flowers, hills, and distant buildings. Their iridescent colors shine like gems in the dark green air of the night.

This art object can not be displayed
This art object can not be displayed

Image credit:
José Chávez Morado
La conspiración [Conspiracy], from the portfolio Vida nocturna de la ciudad de México [Mexico City’s Nightlife], 1936 (detail)
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
University purchase, 1966; Transfer from the Harry Ransom Center, 1982