My last day in Mexico City

In many ways this viaje has seemed too long and too short. Naturally, I am tired from such a hectic schedule of museum hopping (not to mention the altitude); I miss my home and especially my partner Tom (oh, and the kitties, too). But the trip has been too short to really see it all. Pues, Mexico City has thousands of years of history and so much going on around the clock, that there’s no way to do it all. I guess I’ll just have to return again soon.

Today’s excursion included two “museums” – The Ministry of Public Education and the Old College of San Ildefonso (better known as La Prepa). Both places are known for their murals. After the Mexican Revolution, Jose Vasconcelos was appointed the minister of education. Vasconcelos believed in popular education and sponsored many of the artists that would create the Mexican Muralist tradition (including Rivera, Orosco, Siquieros, Tamayo, etc.). Here are some examples:

The Arsenal

Diego Rivera got the exclusive rights to paint the murals at the Ministry of Public Education. Around this time, Diego had become acquainted with Frida Kahlo through their mutual friend Tina Modotti. In the Arsenal, we see Frida and Tina handing out arms. There are many stories about how Diego and Frida first met (the movie Frida should NOT be taken as factual by any account); most seem to have been fabrications by Diego and Frida (both were admitted “mythomaniacs’).

The panels at the Ministry of Public Education extol the virtues of the revolution, workers, peasants, and Indigenous people. Diego was particularly entranced with the women of Tehuana. Here is a panel:

Note that Frida was depicted in the clothes she wore at the time. She had already joined the Mexican Communist Party (before knowing Diego) and dressed accordingly (worker’s shirt, simple skirt, star pin). Sometime after her marriage to Diego, she would begin to wear her iconic Tehuana outfits.

There are so many murals (three floors) . . . I can’t possibly post them all.

One other interesting exhibit at the Ministry was about the colonial period use of the structure (as a convent). Here’s a burial of a nun with a crown and a retablo of what she might have looked like at the time of her burial.

Nun with a crown


I have an aunt that is a nun (ah, but she’s been a hipster nun since the late 60s) –Sister Josie. She took a trip to Mexico City a long time ago and she was pick-pocketed on the subway!

Moving on to “La Prepa” which was the nickname for the National Preparatory School. In the 1920s, the school opened its doors to female students. Frida was in the first class, one of 35 girls. While she was a student, Diego was working on murals at the school — so it is likely that Frida did taunt the artist while he worked.

There are numerous famous murals at the Prepa. Here’s Orozco’s depiction of Cortez and La Malinche:

I mentioned Jose Clemente Orozco in a previous post. This is one of his more famous murals. I know it from critiques — and was surprised at how small it is and its odd location (stairwell). I will write more about this mural at a later date . . . it requires a lengthy discussion.

Here’s another Orozco, called “The Aristocrats.” It is hard to see at this angle, but these wealthy snobs are stepping over a poor woman and child asking for assistance.

This is a fantastic stained glass window that was made in Germany in 1899. I love the motto: Amor Orden y Progreso (Love, Order, and Progress).

The museum also had an exhibit of the works of Julio Galan (1959-2006) which was just outrageously fantastic.

I was unfamiliar with Galan’s work and bought the catalog (yikes! $75.00) — but it was well worth it. Galan’s work has been compared with Frida’s since both relied on self-portraiture. That’s all I’ll say about Galan for the moment. If you want to check out his work, drop on by once I’m back in Lincoln to see the catalog.

One final street scene:

Itinerant craftsmen “set up shop” around the cathedral waiting for “chamba” (a job).

4 Responses to “My last day in Mexico City”

  1. great blog–I love when someone tells me about something I’ve still not seen here (‘The Aristocrats’).
    Saludos, Jim J:

  2. I have no idea whether you will see this comment or not, xxxicana, appended as it is to an entry nearly two years old. Nonetheless, I shall toss the bottle with the note inside into the water anyway. I stumbled onto your blog while searching for images of paintings by Dr. Atl. I ended by accompanying you all the way through your tour of Mexico City in the summer of 2008. It was well written up and well photographed.

    I myself have been in Mexico now for nearly a year. I am formerly from Iowa. This weekend I am making only my second foray into Mexico City. You have given me some insight into places that I did not visit on the first trip. Thank you.

    • xxxicana Says:

      Dear Senor Steve, Thanks for your kind comments. I’m totally jealous of your extended stay in Mexico! It has been my dream for years to live there . . but alas I’ve ended up in the wrong “middle” America! LOL. Cuidate y gosa de su viaje!

      • ¡Que amable! Pero estoy siempre con cuidado.

        Had a wonderful time in Mexico City and finally got to Frida’s house in Coyoacan.

        Your next trip must be to San Miguel de Allende. I have been to a few places here and there but never to any more beautiful than this.

        Hasta luego.

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