Mexico opens its arms to contemporary art
The newly expanded Museo Tamayo reopens this week with seven exhibitions of international artists
By Christian Viveros-Fauné. Web only
Published online: 21 August 2012
Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo is reopening on 26 August after a year’s closure. The date is significant: it is the birthday of its founder—the painter and muralist Rufino Tamayo. Among the seven exhibitions on view in the vastly enlarged complex is a large-scale retrospective of Tamayo’s works that includes more than 60 of the artist’s paintings, some of them never seen before in public. According to the co-curator Juan Carlos Pereda, the exhibition provides “an opportunity to show some of the discoveries we’ve made in Tamayo’s oeuvre”.
In addition to the Tamayo retrospective, the museum’s new head curators Julieta González (formerly of Tate Modern) and Willy Kautz are presenting exhibitions, such as “Tomorrow Already Came”, a show of utopian-inspired Mexican art from the 1950s, 60s and 70s alongside the work of contemporary artists (among them, Fernando Bryce, Steve McQueen and Jane and Louise Wilson); “First Act”, a display of global contemporary work that harkens back to the museum’s inauguration in 1981 (it includes artists Tacita Dean, Thomas Demand and Superflex); as well as new commissions by international artists Pierre Huyghe, Michael Stevenson and Ryan Gander.
Carmen Cuenca, the Museo Tamayo’s director since January 2011, says the museum will continue to revolve around its three-pronged original mission: the Modern art collection, a focus on Tamayo as “an important figure for the museum” and an ongoing commitment to exhibiting contemporary art. “The museum’s core mission today is contemporary,” Cuenca says. “Our inaugural exhibitions, for instance, produce a dialogue with the art of today.” Cuenca also says the museum could commission work from mid-career or established artists, “which in some instances may be purchased” for the collection.
The around $7m renovation is a significant remodelling of the museum. The 1,868 sq. m expansion includes 40% more exhibition space, bringing the total size of the galleries up to 1,892 sq m. Spaces for education, documentation, storage and the auditorium have also been refurbished and there are newly landscaped outdoor areas in the surrounding Chapultepec Forest.
According to a museum spokesperson, the expansion and renovation has not significantly altered the museum’s original architecture, in part because the building was planned as an expandable modular structure. Instead, the extension—designed by Teodoro González de León together with Abraham Zabludovsky, one of the building’s original architects—has maintained a distinct abstract look. Modelled on an Aztec pyramid, the Museo Tamayo won Mexico’s National Prize for Architecture in 1982 soon after it opened. González de León describes the structure’s growth 30 years later as a natural process: “It’s as if the museum had extended its arm, which until now remained folded”.
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