The National Art Museum’s (Munal) “De la piedra al barro. Esculptura Mexicana. Siglos XIX and XX” (From stone to clay. Mexican Sculpture. The 19th and 20th Centuries) exhibit will be open to the public Thursday.
The museum, together with the National Institute of the Fine Arts, will present the first “gliptoteca” in the area, an exhibit with more than 70 pieces of sculpture in gesso, marble, bronze, terracota, clay and wood, as well as a series of works including drawings, lithographs and etchings.
The word “gliptoteca” comes from the Greek words “glyptós,” which means stone sculptures, and “theca,” which means place. Together they refer to an enclosure that has notable sculptures from distinct eras, a space in which one can admire the qualities of the statues and the stylist links between them.
In the words of Victor Rodríguez Rangel, curator of the exhibit and Munal’s 19th century specialist, the visitor will enjoy a “seductive experience” in the grand museum salon adapted for the “gliptoteca.” He said the show’s 19th century pieces have mythological subjects such as Cupid, Venus, Mercury, Argos, Hercules, as well as gladiators and satyrs. The brilliant compositions also feature Christian themes such as the descent of Christ and the martyrdom of St. Sebastian.
The exhibit includes pieces that have not been shown or restored since the opening of the “Munal 2000” exhibit, which included restorations of 91 older pieces, of which 36 are part of the new exhibit. The new look for Rooms 19 through 26 marks the continuation of a project that began with the 2014 “Territorio ideal. José María Velasco. Perspectivas de una época” (Ideal Territory. José María Velasco. Perspectives of an Era) exhibit.
The current show focuses on sculptures created in Mexico from throughout the length of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. Sculpture production is an essential field in the history of the art of Mexico and deserves exhibit space and its own study and interpretation, Munal staff said.
The exhibit includes the neoclassicism of Manuel Tolsá and José María Labnastida, the idealism of of Manuel Vilar and his disciples, the esthetics of Gabriel Guerra and Miguel Noreña and the poetic realism with resonances of the Art Nouveau of Arnulfo Domínguez Bello, Jesús Contreras and Fidencio Lucano Nava.
The series features the Mexican Sculpture School of the 20th century, with examples inspired by the pre-Columbian period represented by artists Carlos Bracho, Guillermo Ruiz, Francisco Arturo Marín, Oliverio Martínez, Rómulo Rozo, Ortiz Monasterio, Ignacio Asúnsolo and Mardonio Magaña.
The show opens on the same day that visitors will be able to get acquainted with the new layout of the permanent 19th century collection, which was redone as part of a curatorial renovation program. This optimization of the museum’s space and museological framework creates room for small exhibits.
The exhibit will be accompanied by diverse recreational activities, an academic program and a workshop in which the museum will bring sculpture to people with visual disabilities, for whom it has developed sensory experimentation activities.
The museum is located at Tacuba 8 in the historic center. General admission is 60 pesos.