Portrait of a Young Painter: Pepe Zuniga and Mexico City's Rebel Generation

Duke University Press
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In Portrait of a Young Painter, the distinguished historian Mary Kay Vaughan adopts a biographical approach to understanding the culture surrounding the Mexico City youth rebellion of the 1960s. Her chronicle of the life of painter Pepe Zúñiga counters a literature that portrays post-1940 Mexican history as a series of uprisings against state repression, injustice, and social neglect that culminated in the student protests of 1968. Rendering Zúñiga's coming of age on the margins of formal politics, Vaughan depicts midcentury Mexico City as a culture of growing prosperity, state largesse, and a vibrant, transnationally-informed public life that produced a multifaceted youth movement brimming with creativity and criticism of convention. In an analysis encompassing the mass media, schools, politics, family, sexuality, neighborhoods, and friendships, she subtly invokes theories of discourse, phenomenology, and affect to examine the formation of Zúñiga's persona in the decades leading up to 1968. By discussing the influences that shaped his worldview, she historicizes the process of subject formation and shows how doing so offers new perspectives on the events of 1968.
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About the author

Mary Kay Vaughan is Professor of History Emerita at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants, and Schools in Mexico, 1930–40, winner of both the Conference on Latin American History's Bolton Prize and the Latin American Studies Association's Bryce Wood Award, and a coeditor of Sex in Revolution: Gender, Politics, and Power in Modern Mexico and The Eagle and the Virgin: Nation and Cultural Revolution in Mexico, 1920–1940, both also published by Duke University Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Feb 16, 2015
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780822376125
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Individual Artists / General
History / Latin America / Mexico
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In the eighteenth century, New Spaniards (colonial Mexicans) so lauded their nuns that they developed a local tradition of visually opulent portraits, called monjas coronadas or “crowned nuns,” that picture their subjects in regal trappings at the moment of their religious profession and in death. This study identifies these portraits as markers of a vibrant and changing society that fused together indigenous and Euro-Christian traditions and ritual practices to construct a new and complex religious identity that was unique to New Spain.

To discover why crowned-nun portraits, and especially the profession portrait, were in such demand in New Spain, this book offers a pioneering interpretation of these works as significant visual contributions to a local counter-colonial discourse. James M. Córdova demonstrates that the portraits were a response to the Spanish crown’s project to modify and modernize colonial society—a series of reforms instituted by the Bourbon monarchs that threatened many nuns’ religious identities in New Spain. His analysis of the portraits’ rhetorical devices, which visually combined Euro-Christian and Mesoamerican notions of the sacred, shows how they promoted local religious and cultural values as well as client-patron relations, all of which were under scrutiny by the colonial Church. Combining visual evidence from images of the “crowned nun” with a discussion of the nuns’ actual roles in society, Córdova reveals that nuns found their greatest agency as Christ’s brides, a title through which they could, and did, challenge the Church’s authority when they found it intolerable.

Beginning in the late 1970’s Frida Kahlo achieved cult heroine status less for her richly surrealist self-portraits than by the popularization of the events of her tumultuous life. Her images were splashed across billboards magazine ads, and postcards; fashion designers copied the so-called “Frida” look in hairstyles and dress; and “Fridamania” even extended to T-shirts, jewelry, and nail polish. Margaret A. Lindauer argues that this mass market assimilation of Kahlo’s identity has consistently detracted from appreciation of her work, leading instead to narrow interpretations based on “an entrenched narrative of suffering.” While she agrees that Kahlo’s political and feminist activism, her stormy marriage to fellow artist Diego Reviera, and the tragic reality of a progressively debilitated body did represent a biography colored by emotional and physical upheaval, she questions an “author-equals-the-work” critical tradition that assumes a :one-to-one association of life events to the meaning of a painting.” In kahlo’s case, Lindauer says, such assumptions created a devouring mythology, an iconization that separates us from rather than leads us to the real significance of the oeuvre. Accompanied by 26 illustrations and deep analysis of Kahlo’s central themes, this provocative, semiotic study recontextualizes an important figure in art history at the same time it addresses key questions about the language of interpretation, the nature of veneration, and the truths within self-representation.

Ebook Edition Note: All images have been redacted.
The valley of Malinalco, Mexico, long renowned for its monolithic Aztec temples, is a microcosm of the historical changes that occurred in the centuries preceding and following the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. In particular, the garden frescoes uncovered in 1974 at the Augustinian monastery of Malinalco document the collision of the European search for Utopia with the reality of colonial life.

In this study, Jeanette F. Peterson examines the murals within the dual heritage of pre-Hispanic and European muralism to reveal how the wall paintings promoted the political and religious agendas of the Spanish conquerors while preserving a record of pre-Columbian rituals and imagery. She finds that the utopian themes portrayed at Malinalco and other Augustinian monasteries were integrated into a religious and political ideology that, in part, camouflaged the harsh realities of colonial policies toward the native population.

That the murals were ultimately whitewashed at the end of the sixteenth century suggests that the "spiritual conquest" failed. Peterson argues that the incorporation of native features ultimately worked to undermine the orthodoxy of the Christian message. She places the murals' imagery within the pre-Columbian tlacuilo (scribe-painter) tradition, traces a "Sahagún connection" between the Malinalco muralists and the native artists working at the Franciscan school of Tlatelolco, and explores mural painting as an artistic response to acculturation.

The book is beautifully illustrated with 137 black-and-white figures, including photographs and line drawings. For everyone interested in the encounter between European and Native American cultures, it will be essential reading.

When the fighting of the Mexican Revolution died down in 1920, the national government faced the daunting task of building a cohesive nation. It had to establish control over a disparate and needy population and prepare the country for global economic competition. As part of this effort, the government enlisted the energy of artists and intellectuals in cultivating a distinctly Mexican identity. It devised a project for the incorporation of indigenous peoples and oversaw a vast, innovative program in the arts. The Eagle and the Virgin examines the massive nation-building project Mexico undertook between 1920 and 1940.

Contributors explore the nation-building efforts of the government, artists, entrepreneurs, and social movements; their contradictory, often conflicting intersection; and their inevitably transnational nature. Scholars of political and social history, communications, and art history describe the creation of national symbols, myths, histories, and heroes to inspire patriotism and transform workers and peasants into efficient, productive, gendered subjects. They analyze the aesthetics of nation building made visible in murals, music, and architecture; investigate state projects to promote health, anticlericalism, and education; and consider the role of mass communications, such as cinema and radio, and the impact of road building. They discuss how national identity was forged among social groups, specifically political Catholics, industrial workers, middle-class women, and indigenous communities. Most important, the volume weighs in on debates about the tension between the eagle (the modernizing secular state) and the Virgin of Guadalupe (the Catholic defense of faith and morality). It argues that despite bitter, violent conflict, the symbolic repertoire created to promote national identity and memory making eventually proved capacious enough to allow the eagle and the virgin to coexist peacefully.

Contributors. Adrian Bantjes, Katherine Bliss, María Teresa Fernández, Joy Elizabeth Hayes, Joanne Hershfield, Stephen E. Lewis, Claudio Lomnitz, Rick A. López, Sarah M. Lowe, Jean Meyer, James Oles, Patrice Olsen, Desmond Rochfort, Michael Snodgrass, Mary Kay Vaughan, Marco Velázquez, Wendy Waters, Adriana Zavala

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The definitive biography for decades to come.”—Leo Jansen, curator, the Van Gogh Museum, and co-editor of Vincent van Gogh: The Complete Letters

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, who galvanized readers with their Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Jackson Pollock, have written another tour de force—an exquisitely detailed, compellingly readable portrait of Vincent van Gogh. Working with the full cooperation of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Naifeh and Smith have accessed a wealth of previously untapped materials to bring a crucial understanding to the larger-than-life mythology of this great artist: his early struggles to find his place in the world; his intense relationship with his brother Theo; and his move to Provence, where he painted some of the best-loved works in Western art. The authors also shed new light on many unexplored aspects of Van Gogh’s inner world: his erratic and tumultuous romantic life; his bouts of depression and mental illness; and the cloudy circumstances surrounding his death at the age of thirty-seven.
 
Though countless books have been written about Van Gogh, no serious, ambitious examination of his life has been attempted in more than seventy years. Naifeh and Smith have re-created Van Gogh’s life with an astounding vividness and psychological acuity that bring a completely new and sympathetic understanding to this unique artistic genius.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • The Wall Street Journal • San Francisco Chronicle • NPR • The Economist • Newsday • BookReporter 

“In their magisterial new biography, Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith provide a guided tour through the personal world and work of that Dutch painter, shining a bright light on the evolution of his art. . . . What [the authors] capture so powerfully is Van Gogh’s extraordinary will to learn, to persevere against the odds.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Brilliant . . . Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith are the big-game hunters of modern art history. . . . [Van Gogh] rushes along on a tide of research. . . . At once a model of scholarship and an emotive, pacy chunk of hagiography.”—Martin Herbert, The Daily Telegraph (London)
Sex in Revolution challenges the prevailing narratives of the Mexican Revolution and postrevolutionary state formation by placing women at center stage. Bringing to bear decades of feminist scholarship and cultural approaches to Mexican history, the essays in this book demonstrate how women seized opportunities created by modernization efforts and revolutionary upheaval to challenge conventions of sexuality, work, family life, religious practices, and civil rights.

Concentrating on episodes and phenomena that occurred between 1915 and 1950, the contributors deftly render experiences ranging from those of a transgendered Zapatista soldier to upright damas católicas and Mexico City’s chicas modernas pilloried by the press and male students. Women refashioned their lives by seeking relief from bad marriages through divorce courts and preparing for new employment opportunities through vocational education. Activists ranging from Catholics to Communists mobilized for political and social rights. Although forced to compromise in the face of fierce opposition, these women made an indelible imprint on postrevolutionary society.

These essays illuminate emerging practices of femininity and masculinity, stressing the formation of subjectivity through civil-society mobilizations, spectatorship and entertainment, and locales such as workplaces, schools, churches, and homes. The volume’s epilogue examines how second-wave feminism catalyzed this revolutionary legacy, sparking widespread, more radically egalitarian rural women’s organizing in the wake of late-twentieth-century democratization campaigns. The conclusion considers the Mexican experience alongside those of other postrevolutionary societies, offering a critical comparative perspective.

Contributors. Ann S. Blum, Kristina A. Boylan, Gabriela Cano, María Teresa Fernández Aceves, Heather Fowler-Salamini, Susan Gauss, Temma Kaplan, Carlos Monsiváis, Jocelyn Olcott, Anne Rubenstein, Patience Schell, Stephanie Smith, Lynn Stephen, Julia Tuñón, Mary Kay Vaughan

The Mexico Reader is a vivid introduction to muchos Méxicos—the many Mexicos, or the many varied histories and cultures that comprise contemporary Mexico. Unparalleled in scope and written for the traveler, student, and expert alike, the collection offers a comprehensive guide to the history and culture of Mexico—including its difficult, uneven modernization; the ways the country has been profoundly shaped not only by Mexicans but also by those outside its borders; and the extraordinary economic, political, and ideological power of the Roman Catholic Church. The book looks at what underlies the chronic instability, violence, and economic turmoil that have characterized periods of Mexico’s history while it also celebrates the country’s rich cultural heritage.

A diverse collection of more than eighty selections, The Mexico Reader brings together poetry, folklore, fiction, polemics, photoessays, songs, political cartoons, memoirs, satire, and scholarly writing. Many pieces are by Mexicans, and a substantial number appear for the first time in English. Works by Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes are included along with pieces about such well-known figures as the larger-than-life revolutionary leaders Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata; there is also a comminiqué from a more recent rebel, Subcomandante Marcos. At the same time, the book highlights the perspectives of many others—indigenous peoples, women, politicians, patriots, artists, soldiers, rebels, priests, workers, peasants, foreign diplomats, and travelers.

The Mexico Reader explores what it means to be Mexican, tracing the history of Mexico from pre-Columbian times through the country’s epic revolution (1910–17) to the present day. The materials relating to the latter half of the twentieth century focus on the contradictions and costs of postrevolutionary modernization, the rise of civil society, and the dynamic cross-cultural zone marked by the two thousand-mile Mexico-U.S. border. The editors have divided the book into several sections organized roughly in chronological order and have provided brief historical contexts for each section. They have also furnished a lengthy list of resources about Mexico, including websites and suggestions for further reading.

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