MoCA of the Month
This month’s chosen MoCA is the MuAC – Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo. Inaugurated last year in November, this institution houses the largest collection of Mexican and international contemporary art in the country.
The institution is affiliated with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), which has established facilities for dance, theater, music, film and literature since 1976. UNAM has been collecting art since the 1960s, and the Acquisition Program which was founded in 2004 has since enhanced the collection considerably. It has further benefitted from long-term loans from private collectors.
Being a university museum, the MuAC values museum education very highly. Among several educational programs, the museum stands out by its use of Enlaces, a group of students present in the exhibition, ready to offer their interpretive and explanatory comments about the artworks.
We see the MuAC as a pioneering institution; it’s large and diverse collection is unique to the country. Furthermore, it focuses on the museum visitor and the interaction between curators, the collection and the viewers. “The MuAC conceives curatorship as something more than the construction of linear discourses. Taking the idea of displacement as its point of departure, it defines curatorship as a relationship between node and flux that finds its representation in the notion of composite curational units [...]” Rafael Sámano Roo: “A New Setting for the Contemporary: A University Museum in Mexico City,” in: Belting & Buddensieg, 2009.
University Museum of Contemporary Art
Insurgentes Sur 3000
Centro Cultural Universitario
Ciudad de Mexico
Teodoro González de León
The museum’s architecture underlines its openess to new art. Architect Teodoro González de León designed the building in such a way that its nine exhibition rooms can be illuminated with both natural or artificial light, and can be fully darkened. It thus accommodates for all types of artistic as well as curational needs.
“The Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo serves as a reference for the awareness and creation of new artistic expressions and for Mexico’s visual culture. The MuAC presents avant-garde public programs, aimed to teach, create new experiences and encourage aesthetic pleasure. Its actions echo the spirit of excellence that defines the National Autonomous University of Mexico.”
UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico), with which the MuAC is affiliated, started collecting works of contemporary art in 1952. Since then, an extensive and versatile collection has been built up. It has been further extended by the Acquisition Program which was initiated in 2004, and, additionally to this, the collection is enriched by long-term loans from private collectors.
The aim of the collection is to document the history of contemporary art in Mexico. Mediums collected include painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation and graphic arts.
The four collecting areas of the museum are:
Founding Artists of the University and its Contemporaries
This area includes drawings, sketches, scale models and historical documentation about the architectural and decorative proposals for the Ciudad Universitaria, such as Diego Rivera’s sketches, David Alfaro Siqueiros’ documents and photographies of Hector García. In historical terms, this unit must offer a full comprehension of the public art linked to the University in its various stages. It is also expanded to those artists that converge on UNAM’s foundation context, as well as those that kept a nationalist aspect on their work. This unit of work allows to establish a bridge between modern art and contemporary art.
The Rupture and its Contemporaries
Gestural abstraction, geometric abstraction and abstract expressionism became the leading movements during the mid of the 20th century in the Western world, and they were contemporary to the creation of Ciudad Universitaria, a modernist project in itself. The movement, known in Mexico as ‘La Ruptura’ (the Break) must therefore be the starting point of the collection. The works of renowned Mexican artists as Gilberto Aceves Navarro, José Luis Luevas, Manuel Felguérez, Fernando Garcia Ponce, Gabriel Ramírez, Vicente Rojo, Kasuya Sakai, Francisco Toledo, Roger von Gunten, sum up contemporary artists closely linked to the University that undertook different routes of creation, such as Mathias Goeritz, Fernando González Gortázar, Hursúa, Brian Nissen and Federico Silva.
Continuation of the Abstract in Mexico
Through art schools, and particularly the ENAP, abstractions became a sort of “official art” in Mexico and its international card until the mid of the 1980s. In terms of the collection, this unit expands to the work of abstract artists, such as Francisco Castro Leñero, Ivonne Domenge, Fernando García Correa, Pela Krauze, Everardo Ramírez and Beatriz Zamora.
New Figurative Art
This area includes the work by the heirs of Surrealism, like Xavier Esqueda and Pedro Fridebers; the new figurative art derivative of photorealism, like Marta Pacheco, Carla Rippey, Saúl Villa, Arturo River, as well as an important group from the 1980s, later named as “neo-Mexicanists”: Julio Galán, Javier de la Garza, Enrique Guzmán, Rocìo Maldonado, Dulce María Nuñez, Germán Venegas and Nahum B. Zanil.
The Museo Universitario de arte Contemporáneo houses the largest collection of contemporary art in Mexico. Its educational program aims to promote appreciation of the arts and architecture, as well as aesthetic enjoyment.