A Gringo Guide to the Mexican Revolution (Gringo Guides)
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Related Searches. A Gringo Guide to Mexican History. A complete page History of Mexico with pictures. In the fashion of all great despots, he ruled his emerging country with an iron fist. Culturally, Daz was also responsible for the Frenchification of the country. Wealthier inhabitants of Mexico City began to segregate themselves in neighborhoods reminiscent of Paris.
Here, in ostentatious mansions with garrets and mansard roofs, adorned with velvet drapes, parquet floors, European statuettes and monstrous chandeliers, they could ignore the poverty-stricken masses of Indians and mestizos they despised. The folk art of these indigenous people and their glorious artistic pre-Columbian past were disdained by these often-nouveau riche Mexican Francophiles, who preferred stiff portraits of family members and ormolu-encrusted furniture to the ancient cultural bounty of their own country.
This is not surprising, given Mexico's long history of racism against its indigenous population. For years following the Spanish Conquest, a person could not hold public office or work in any government capacity without proving "purity of blood" untainted by Indian alliance. French taste was reinforced in the European-based painting and sculpture being cranked out at the Academy of San Carlos, Mexico City's official citadel of artistic production, by students who routinely studied classical models in Europe. Academic portraiture and historical genre paintings were standard output during the s and s.
Mexican history paintings could be especially mirth-provoking; Jose Obregon's "Discovery of Pulque," a figment of the artist's neoclassical imagination, depicts a nubile young Indian maiden offering a bowl of the alcoholic brew to a mythical Indian king ensconced on a throne that looks like something out of an old Hollywood Biblical epic. With the advent of modernism at the beginning of the 20th century, characterized by its distaste for traditional middle-class values and a spiritual uneasiness spawned by industrialization and its inevitable materialism, young Mexican artists flocked to Paris to complete their studies.
There they cherry-picked elements from a number of European art movements, including Symbolism, Impressionism, Naturalism, Art Nouveau and even Oriental art. Evidence of all of these movements is still a highly visible part of Mexico City's architecture, including its Palacio de Bellas Artes. But not all art produced during the Porfiriato was so Eurocentric. Provincial painters uninfluenced by academic painting of the era produced environmental portraits, Mexican landscapes and beautiful still lifes using exotic tropical fruits, everyday ceramics and picturesque native birds and flowers as subjects.
A Gringo in Rural Mexico
Anonymous artists created ex-votos, several of which are displayed in "South of the Border," albeit without any explanation. These small tin paintings were dedicated to various saints to give thanks for miraculous cures or intervention. Throughout the 19th and into the early 20th century, the walls of most churches throughout Mexico were covered with these tin tributes. And, most important, during the s, Jose Guadalupe Posada, along with other less-well-known printmakers, was producing bawdy broadsides for the Day of the Dead, political caricatures satirizing both rich and poor, and cheap illustrated novellas and religious tracts.
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Posada's work eventually provided inspiration to a number of post-Revolutionary painters, including Diego Rivera, Jos Clemente Orozco and Jean Charlot, who venerated Posada for being what Charlot claimed was the first truly Mexican artist. It was against this backdrop that Mexico entered one of the bloodiest periods of its history.
When the smoke cleared and the last political shots had been fired, it was Daz had been dethroned, Alvaro Obregn was president, and a new generation of Mexican artists profoundly influenced by the revolutionary experience and the discovery of their own indigenous culture would make an indelible mark on art history. The very presence of these artists, as well as the newly discovered treasures of Mexico's pre-Conquest past and its centuries-old folk-art tradition, lured many Americans south of the border.
The imaginations of America's armchair travelers were kindled by the absorbing, but often inflammatory and racially biased, accounts of this exotic destination. Literary treatment of Mexico's masses ranged from indulgent paternalism to outright bigotry. Fanny Caldern de la Barca, the feisty Scottish wife of the first Spanish envoy to Mexico since its independence from Spain, delighted reading audiences with Life in Mexico, published in both London and Boston in Her colorful account of life in both urban and rural Mexico during her two-year tenure between and was an instant success.
In , John Lloyd Stephens published his archaeological accounts in Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatn, which was painstakingly illustrated with exotic drawings of abandoned Mayan ruins by Frederick Catherwood.
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William Prescott's History of the Conquest of Mexico soon followed in , stoking the American imagination even further. Lumholtz mesmerized his American readers with his perilous experiences among the cave-dwelling Tarahumara tribe of northern Mexico illustrated with photographs of bare-breasted Tarahumara women , the Huichols of Jalisco and the Tarascos now known by the Indian name of Purepecha of Michoacn. Armed with a passport personally issued by Porfirio Daz, Lumholtz had no compunction against taking pre-Columbian artifacts home with him, sometimes against the will of the indigenous people he was studying.
Travel books about Mexico and attractive tourism literature whetted the American appetite for the country's charms even more. But the "ugly American," whether resident alien or tourist, did not escape the critical glare of fellow countrymen living in Mexico during the Porfiriato, nor of post-Revolutionary Mexican artists. Mexico's Jos Clemente Orozco and American artists Ren d'Harnoncourt and Caroline Durieux would unleash their brushes against the invading American tourist hordes on a regular basis. Viva Mexico, by Charles Macomb Flandrau, an American writer and Mexican coffee-plantation owner, was one of the few books to honestly describe the rather ugly nature of Americans in Mexico, including the American tourist, during the heyday of heavy U.
There are American doctors and dentists, brakemen, locomotive engineers, Pullman-car conductors, civil engineers, mining engineers, 'promoters,' grocers, hotel keepers, dealers in curios; there are American barkeepers, lawyers, stenographers, photographers, artists, clerks, electricians, and owners of ranches of one kind or another who grow cattle or coffee or vanilla or sugar or rubber. The least of their crimes is their suddenly acquired mania for being conspicuous. Only Mexican women would never do the one, while American women frequently, from motives I am at a loss to account for, do the other.
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American newspapers and magazines fed stories and gruesome photographs to the American public about various Revolutionary personalities and skirmishes. At one point, American photographers were selling these grisly photographs as postcards to American soldiers stationed at the borders and in Veracruz, who in turn sent them to the folks back home in the States.
And the folks back home could only surmise that Mexico must be a pretty dangerous place to be. A May 30, , New York Times editorial summed up America's concept of the average Mexican at this time: "To the average American the Mexican of today is an insurgent or a bandit or, at any rate, a conspirator against his own Government. It was only after relative peace was established following the signing of the Constitution that American artists, writers, collectors and tourists began to stream across its borders again.
Constitution Day (Mexican Holiday)
Meanwhile, in Chihuahua, which was mostly owned by the Terrazas family and governed by Alberto Terrazas, a sexual deviate scion who seduced his niece, revolutionary fervor grew. He began a career as a fugitive at the age of 16, when he shot a wealthy land baron who had raped his little sister. This made him a criminal in the eyes of the people in power, and he was pursued by the Rurales for years.
Living and Writing in Mexico. About the Author Walking Tours, Mexico. Archive November, Like this: Like Loading Comments Leave a Comment Categories Uncategorized. Comments 1 Comment Categories Uncategorized. Categories Uncategorized.
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