Sotheby’s Magazine

Masterpieces of Mexico: City of Culture

By Laurie Rojas

A s a global arts hub, Mexico City exerts an unquestionable pull in February. It is easy to be captivated by CDMX (as the city has recently been rebranded), with its architectural beauty, proliferation of Mexican muralist pieces, buzzing plazas, colourful markets, tempting street food and world-class gourmet dining. With over 170 museums and 45 galleries, the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world is a perfect place for a cultural getaway, but to get to know it in a limited time, there a few things art lovers and collectors must not miss. Starting with Zona MACO (5–9 February), arguably Latin America’s leading international art fair with mega dealers and emerging galleries, any visit should be followed with the fast-rising independent satellite Material Art Fair (7–9 February), and, for those seeking to explore the local art scene, a stop by the artist-run Salon Acme (6–9 February).

James Turrell, Apani, 2011, from the Ganzfeld series Florian Holzherr

Turrell Vision


A major survey of American artist James Turrell at the Jumex Museum is aptly titled Passages of Light. Featuring new works from Turrell’s most important light series, the show’s highlights include two contrasting installations: one of Turrell’s Ganzfeld works, named after a German word that describes the phenomenon of a total loss of depth perception, will be adjacent to Dark Space, an installation with no perceivable light. It triggers the appearance of images from within the eye, which Turrell describes as “seeing yourself see”. “Turrell’s work is unique in finding continuity between the modern world and ancient relationships to the sky, stars and light,” says curator Kit Hammonds.
James Turrell: Passages of Light, Museo Jumex, through 29 March

Gabriel de la Mora, E.I.S., 1921, 1.6 gr. de pigmento, 2018 (part of a diptych)

Genuine Fakes


Is there such a thing as a fake? Mexican conceptual artist Gabriel de la Mora will approach this question for the Originalmente Falso exhibition. De la Mora’s practice includes intervening in forgeries of works by Mexican artists to the point of producing a new object. For the show, he will form a dialogue with Mexican masters in the National Museum of Art’s permanent collection and in doing so bring into question the “valuation, search, collecting and storage of artistic works... practices that have accompanied the artistic universe for several centuries”, says curator Abraham Crispín Villavicencio García. The works have also, he adds, “paradoxically produced a black market, from where the fake ones serve as raw material to this artist-alchemist”.
Originalmente Falso, Museo Nacional de Arte, 6 February–26 April

Marcos Kurtycz, Bomba de cuitlacoche, 1983

Emergency Archive


The Polish-born artist Marcos Kurtycz is a legendary figure in Mexico’s contemporary art scene. Arriving there in 1968, during a volatile period in the country’s history, Kurtycz abandoned engineering to become an artist, embracing Conceptualism, action painting, Mail art and artist’s books as strategic tools in his war against the institutionalisation and commodification of art. Since his death in 1996, his archive has been structured and now forms the basis of this solo show curated by Francisco Reyes Palma. “Kurtycz is an unparalleled figure,” the museum says, “in particular in his way of reacting to the state of emergency that prevailed during the Cold War period.”
Marcos Kurtycz: an art of total action against the state of war, Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, through 17 May


AROUND TOWN: Postcolonial Focus

The interior courtyard at Museo Tamayo

Alexandre Estrela Museo Tamayo, 6 February–May


The capital’s premier public venue for contemporary art inaugurates the first institutional solo show of Portuguese artist Alexandre Estrela in Mexico City. Estrela is best known for investigations into the essence, materiality and perception of “the image”. In this exhibition, a group of video installations explores the behaviour of real and fictitious animals.

Installation of Mauro Giaconi’s Sembrar dudas in El anima herido, 2019

The Wounded Animal Museo Experimental el Eco, through 9 February


The Wounded Animal brings together 15 works by contemporary Mexican and Latin American artists to pay tribute to a post-war generation concerned with the issue of dehumanisation. These works highlight the tensions of race, class, gender and environment in Latin American post-industrial societies.

Juan Caloca. Maniqueísmo, 2018

The Abuses of Forms Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, through 30 April


This group exhibition investigates Modern and contemporary art’s appropriation of ancient craftsmanship, artisanal techniques and popular and pre-Hispanic iconography. Through the work of artists such as Mathias Goeritz, Sheila Hicks and Eduardo Terrazas, the show seeks to render the relationship of art and craft from the perspective of postcolonial theories.

Installation shot of Diego & Frida. 25 years in El Olmedo

Diego & Frida. 25 years in El Olmedo Museo Dolores Olmedo, through 12 April


To mark the 25th anniversary of Museo Dolores Olmedo, a 16th-century hacienda, the museum showcases more than 40 paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and highlights the influences that motivated their dialogue with pre-Hispanic art and Mexican crafts.


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