Mexico City Part – 3 Architecture, Art and more

Charlotte and I visited as many museums and galleries exhibiting contemporary art as we could. After consulting guide books and the internet, rigorous planning went into each day as we mapped out the area of the city we wanted to visit, how to find the art locations, where we would have lunch, our transportation, and what to take with us depending on the weather. Planning took place the evening before.

We also had to visit several Apple Stores to track down a cable for my laptop. Fortunately, the stores were located near art museums!

While traveling through the city we saw many examples of interesting and innovated architecture. Luis Barragan is regarded as the most prominent figure in modern Mexican architecture. At the time of his death in 1988 he was recognized for his achievements and his status has risen ever since. He taught architecture at the University of Mexico where he made a huge impact on future Mexican architects. His career spanned from 1927 to 1988 during which time he had been engaged in 170 projects, many in foreign locations.

On an earlier trip to Mexico City, I visited his home, which is now a museum.

Here are some buildings that we admired:

This is the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Univ. of Mexico.

This is the Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art

On the left is the interior of a gallery, on the right is the entrance to the Digital Culture Museum.

This is the Kaluz Museum.

Here is the Jumex Museum with a spectacular sculpture in front. It is titled “Lovers.”

At the same time there are great modern buildings, we also admired Colonial architecture dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. On the left a Mexican Rococo church and the Palacio Belles Artes on the right, the National Museum of Art.

In many of the restaurants and shops in the Historic District we observed buildings with original masonry exposed. We loved the textures and patterns!

And probably the most photographed and talked about building in the city is the Soumaya Museum of Art.

The museum is named after the wife of its creator and businessman, Carlos Slim, the 10th most richest person in the world. (From 2010 – 13 he was first on the list.) He is the richest man in Latin America with a net worth of $86 billion.

The museum features a vast collection of European art from 16th to the 20th century.

Most of the art museum we visited had interior atriums open to the ceiling with natural light pouring in. At the Museo Soumaya the interior space reminded me of the Guggenheim in NYC, except that the floors of the Soumaya are flat, joined by ramps where as the ramp at the Guggenheim spirals down and the floor is sloped.

Slim amassed a private collection of casts of Rodin sculptures – more than a 100. They are displayed on the top floor under the huge skylight.

These are the art destinations we visited:

Mumedi Mexican Museum of Design. Museo Soumaya. Jumex Museum. Mexico City Cultural Center. Museo Tamayo. Museo of Popular Culture. Museo Franz Meyer. Museo of Modern Art. Museum of Objects. OMR Gallery Museo of Contemporary Art Urban Planning Exhibition. Museo Kaluz Historic Sculpture Park Center for Digital Culture Gallery Galguera

And here are some of the artworks we found interesting.

There were two museums showing group shows of women’s art and a number of solo shows by women artists. One of the exhibits featured design that included industrial and furniture design, textile and graphic design, jewelry and accessories, the whole gamut of design.

On the left is a floor to ceiling poster depicting the women featured in the exhibit.

This is a tunic/wall hanging made out of recycled clothing along with care labels.

Another exhibit of women’s art was curated with the theme that women artists have been missing for centuries from for Mexican exhibit venues. Many of the work on display had feminist content.

For instance, the artist of the piece on the left introduced her own image into an painting by a popular 19th French painting referencing how common it is in the history of art to idealize and set standards for feminine beauty.

On the right is a library of plastic book-shaped boxes with soil from all over the world. I could relate to the collection because I often pick up pebbles as earthy mementos when I travel.

This installation was created by an artist who worked with a group of women who crocheted at bunch of boobs!

This exhibit displayed social/political art protesting the individuals who have gone missing in Latin American in recent years. Many of the pieces made reference to specific people. The display on the right shows shoes of missing people. The artist has cut messages in the soles of the shoes and printed them. Very sobering artwork.

Here are shirts worn by protesters and handkerchiefs embellished and dedicated to the missing.

Charlotte was particularly interested in the construction of an installations of columns. (She has created a series of columns herself.)

Both the figure and the chairs were cast metal. The figure was 3 ft in height and the stack of chairs and stone globes was 15 high. We admired both for their scale and visual impact.

I was intrigued by the texture and color of these prints by Rufino Tamayo using a process that he invented.

More work we liked.

A cat defined within an ink blot!

At the Jumex Museum we visited a beautiful installation of exquisite Cartier jewelry.

At the Mumedi Museum of Design, we saw a fabulous collection of 300 posters that were selected from 4000 that were submitted from all over the world. The museum sponsors a competition each year announcing a different theme. This year the theme was death.

Mexicans accept death as a part of life and openly reference it in their traditions. The posters were diverse in their messaging about death – some somber, others nostalgic, others amusing, and others really funny. We spent a long time contemplating them!

Some of our favorites.

One of the exhibits that we found most captivating was a video installation in a huge space where there were at least 20 large screens set up showing children from all over the world at play. The were playing with simple objects – stones, sticks, ropes – no plastic or commercially manufactured items. And these kids were having such a good time either in full concentration and/or joyous. We sat on rolling stools scooting from one screen to another.

The one that especially held our attention was of several North African boys playing with a tire. We watched them rolling the tire up a high, steep hill of dry earth. One boy completed the task one step at a time. He pushed and pushed and pushed.

Then he rolled all the way down!

We also greatly enjoyed visiting the Museo of Popular Arts where we saw fabulous examples of traditional Mexican crafts. Kites were suspended in the three story atrium.

And the Mexicans do not hold back on color!

A beaded actual VW!

Here is a statement!

We took time out for some entertainment and attended a production of the Ballet Folklórico de México Compania in the sumptuous theater of the Palacio Bellas Artes. The glass curtain, created by Tiffanys contains more than a million glass pieces. Before the screen is raised, different colored lights rotate behind the glass creating a lovely luminous display.

For more than an hour and a half, the dancers presented a spectacular performance of a wide array of dances, each different themes, different costumes, and different sets. All carried out with much energy and non-stop motion. It seems many of the dances were a cross between flamenco and Irish step dancing. We loved it!

And as a diversion from museums, we spent a day at Xochimilco, an area where remnants of Lake Texcoco still exist. The area is wet with both natural and artificial islands (floating islands) navigated by flat bottom boats in 110 miles of shallow canals. The soil is very rich and is ideal for crops and plant nurseries.

To visit this area is to take a colorful boat rented by the hour. We teamed up with two German graduate students, Rob and Maja, and enjoyed being gently poled through canals. This activity is often enjoyed as outings by Mexican families who bring food and drink along. Or you can purchase refreshments from boating vendors.

There are hundreds of boats available and on busy days, there are boat traffic jams!

Pulque is a slightly alcoholic drink made from the agave plant. Unlike tequila and mezcal, it cannot be exported. Mariachi bands are also available for hire.

As for food, we ate well in Mexico City! We often dined in museum restaurants.

Within one block from our apartment was a very large bakery. We each enjoyed a pastry, but resisted the calories after that.

One of the best aspects about our two weeks in Mexico City was the hospitality that was shown to use by the many Mexicans we encountered. On a number of occasions we were approached and were asked if we needed help or directions or we were offered seats on the crowed subways. People were warm and friendly.

We will be soon planning our next trip now that the world is open to us again.


2 thoughts on “Mexico City Part – 3 Architecture, Art and more

  1. Sandra Brown

    Thanks for Sharing this Joan. It was very interesting, and brought back fond memories of my trip to Mexico City. How is your Spanish now? 😀


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