A perimeter fence in Ciudad Universitaria and the placement of a monumental sculpture in the Lomas de Plateros housing unit in Mexico City were two projects devised by the artist Germán Cueto (1893-1975) but due to budgetary reasons and lack of political will they did not become a reality. However, today they can be seen at the National Museum of Art (Munal) in the exhibition “Germán Cueto. An avant-garde vision”.
The exhibition that brings together 70 pieces, including sculptures, masks, paintings, pieces of wire, drawings and enamels, seeks to value the work of the so-called estridentismo sculptor and from whom, recently, the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired works to exhibit them in the European avant-garde room.
The curator Enrique Villa Ramírez recalled that Germán Cueto lived in Europe from 1927 to 1932, a time when he was in contact with the Parisian avant-gardes, which is why his work contains elements of Dadaism, cubism and primitivism. From that moment on, Cueto worked in steel, bronze, wire, and paste.
Upon his return to the country, the artist dedicated himself to theater, puppetry and dance, intensifying the creation of masks by participating in various stagings, including the ballet “La Coronela”. Some of these masks are exhibited in the Munal.
The ballet was presented at the Palace of Fine Arts in 1940, with choreography by Waldeen, music by Silvestre Revueltas and with the participation of the actor Seki Sano. In addition to the fact that it was “the great debut of Guillermina Bravo, the mother of contemporary dance,” said the curator.
“Germán Cueto was ahead of his time, he is an artist to whom Mexico owes the place that he deserves. When Cueto returns to Mexico is in full swing the Mexican school of sculpture and what Cueto did was not interesting in MexicoI think he came back at a bad time,” said Villa Ramírez.
In this regard, the also curator Héctor Palhares pointed out that Cueto was an avant-garde in his time and a precursor to other avant-gardes. “Before Vicente Rojo and Manuel Felguerez, he, Germán Cueto, is already venturing into geometries, into games with techniques in his proposal that is forged during his stay in Europe,” he said.
For example, wire masks can be seen in the sample where a triangle or a crescent recreates the physiognomy of faces, as well as a portrait of Picasso (a work done in terracotta) and the masks that allude to those that were once in the “Nobody’s Cafe”.
“On Jalisco street number 100, today Álvaro Obregón avenue, in front of Casa Lamm, in the Roma neighborhood, the historic “Nobody’s Cafe” was there for a while and then on San Luis Potosí street. The estridentists Germán Cueto, Manuel Maples Arce, Salvador Gallardo, German List Arzubide, Arqueles Vela, Miguel Aguillón Guzman, Leopoldo Méndez met there”, commented the curator.
In the words of Palhares, stridentism is the shrillness of machines, speed, modern life, the great urban transformations during the Obregonist era in Mexico, the post-revolution era, it is no longer the battlefield and there Cueto finds shelter in a modern and futuristic vision.
Another part of the exhibition shows two projects that remained as models: a fence for Ciudad Universitaria and a sculpture for a housing unit.
“In the middle of the 20th century, with the Mexican miracle, there was a reconfiguration of the city under the baton of Alemán and Ruiz Cortines, we will have key cases with Soriano, Felguérez, Mérida and Rojo, but Cueto was also part of that project and one of the most important is the perimeter fence for Ciudad Universitaria (1952)”, indicates
Another model that is exhibited and which is the only sculpture by Cueto in Mexico City is “El Corredor”, made for the Mexico 1968 Friendship Route, where the lines suggest the movement of the running man.
The exhibition German Cueto. An avant-garde vision” It will be open to the public until November 27. The exhibition brings together 73 plastic works, plus 10 publications, including catalogs of major exhibitions. The works range from the 30s to the 60s of the last century.
“The Museum of Modern Art in New York has bought several works by Cueto, this museum has determined not to put Cueto with Mexican or Latin American artists, but with the European avant-garde, Cueto’s work is of that size,” he said. the curator Villa Ramírez.
Germán Cueto and his avant-garde aesthetics arrive at the Munal