The New Soumaya Museum is Inaugurated
Replacing a smaller museum located in the south part of Mexico city and with works by great masters like Diego Rivera, Auguste Rodin and Leonardo Da Vinci amongst what will be a rotating exhibition of close to 66,000 artworks so far – and counting, the Soumaya Museum was inaugurated last Tuesday in the northwest part of Mexico City. The museum will open to the public on March 28, 2011 and will be closed on Tuesdays. Admission will be free.
The Soumaya will display one of the vastest collections of European and Latin American Art in Mexico. The collection is owned by the world’s richest man, telecom billionaire Carlos Slim Helu and its name comes after Slim’s late wife Soumaya Domit Slim. The six-story modern building, beautifully designed by Slim’s son-in-law architect Fernando Romero is covered by 16,000 aluminum panels with a curvy landmark design on the outside, and the spectacular 183,000 feet of interior halls interconnected by stairs, ramps and elevators.
The inaugural exhibition will display some 6,200 artworks, which account for about 10% of the complete collection. The 800 million dollar building has a steel structure and it is armed with the latest technology such as controlled temperature and humidity to hold its artworks in the best of conditions.
The first and second floors hold gold and silver pieces, viceroyalty coins, Mesoamerican ceramic, stone and shell pieces. The third and fourth floors exhibit old European masters, New Spain masters, landscapes, portraits and various other art objects. The fifth floor exhibits an impressive collection of what refers to “The Mexican School of Painting” lead by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, amongst many more such as the initiators of the called “The Rupture Movement”; a group of artists from the 1950’s heralding a huge change in Mexican aesthetic expression and it is known to be responsible for the cosmopolitan direction in which art in Mexico has been developed since. With Auguste Rodin as the main theme, the sixth floor holds “The Rodin Era”, also with works by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Camille Claudel, and one of his pupils Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux; it is said to be the most spectacular of all halls and the second most important Rodin collection in the world.
The Soumaya Museum has the most important collection of European art and Latin American art in all Latin America and it is the fastest growing private art collection in the world. Are Mexicans proud of getting a museum from their fellow citizen named the richest man in the world? At least Slim is not keeping his collection to himself. I am proud to have a country inundated with art wherever you go, rich areas, poor areas, parks, corners, circles; art is abundant and it is one of our biggest assets. Mexico is one of the most cultural cities in the world where people, rich and poor, identify themselves with culture in general; it is part of who we are. Mexico City is located on what was the capital of the Aztec Empire in pre-Columbian times and you may feel the power of the Aztecs in areas such as at the Templo Mayor. It is common to see old people, young people, families or groups of friends gather together to go to the museum for the newest exhibition or to check the permanent exhibition once again.
The Soumaya Museum just adds to that. And I am also excited for the upcoming museum that will hold the Jumex Collection, which will be the most important collection of Contemporary art, and it is being built right by the Soumaya and flanked by a new theatre as well.
Until next time,
“Latitudes: Maestros Latinoamericanos”
Right before it closed, I had the opportunity to visit the exhibition “Latitudes: Maestros Latinoamericanos” in Mexico City. This exhibition has traveled through Argentina, Spain, Brazil, United States and Mexico. At this time, the Collección FEMSA is participating in the exhibition: “José Clemente Orozco: Pintura y Verdad” in the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City. “Latitudes” displayed modern tendencies of the 20th Century. There were 41 artworks from great artists such as José Clemente Orozco, Armando Reverón, Rufino Tamayo, Wifredo Lam, Roberto Matta, Antonio Berni, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, José Gurvich, Pedro Figari and many more.
I will describe just a few; one in particular that besides the fact that she might be my favorite female painter, I have a personal attachment from an early age to “Papilla Estelar” by Remedios Varo. Oh! What a beauty! For me, it has a peculiar magic that attracts your soul. Varo’s imagination is overwhelmingly enigmatic.
Other great works in the collection include a Juan O’Gorman “Los Mitos” (The Myths); here the artist establishes political and religious concepts on how humans have betrayed their own species thru the centuries depicting an inferno.
A very “O’Gorman style” Frida Kahlo called “Mi Vestido Cuelga Aquí” (My Dress Hangs Here). Painted while living in New York City as Diego Rivera was painting a mural in Rockefeller Center, this is her only collage. In a very detailed cityscape, the “tehuana” dress is hanging on a blue ribbon attached to a toilet sitting on top of a column on the left, and a trophy also on top of a column on the right. The painting is filled up with buildings, factories and the Statue of Liberty. A great David Alfaro Siqueiros “Mujer Dormida – La Primavera” (Sleeping Woman – Spring)
And to close this note on a cynetic twist, this is a Luis Tomasello “Atmósfera Cromoplástica” (Chromoplastic Atmosphere) – Detail. This Argentinean artist has a real talent playing with geometric forms and managing color, light and shadows which I find phenomenal.
Until next time,