Hans Emil ‘Hannes’ Meyer arrived at the Bauhaus in 1927 to run its newly established Building Department. The following year, Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius appointed Meyer his successor as Director of the school. Consumed with the social aspects of architectural design and a staunch supporter of socialist ideals, he was dismissed from the Bauhaus only a few years later in 1930, replaced by Mies van der Rohe. After stints working in Moscow and Geneva, Meyer and his family moved to Mexico City, where he became Director of the Instituto del Urbanismo y Planificación and then Director of Estampa Mexicana, the publishing house of Taller de Gráfica Popular. The Meyers associated with a number of Spanish, Mexican, and Italian artists and political exiles, including Vittorio Vidali and Tina Modotti. On 5 January 1942, Modotti and Vidali attended a dinner party at the Meyers’ home. Modotti complained that she felt ill and left the party, hailing a cab outside. Tragically, she died from a heart attack on her way to the hospital. Hannes Meyer designed her gravestone, decorated with a bas-relief profile portrait sculpted by Leopoldo Méndez and an excerpt from a poem written by Pablo Neruda.
This portfolio of images, inscribed ‘Warm memories from your Swiss friends,’ comes originally from the collection of Vittorio Vidali. The photographs depict various locales in Mexico City and its surroundings from 1938-1940. Although architectural sites, national forests, and dramatic features of the Mexican landscape are numerous, perhaps the most interesting images capture the political and social temperature of the period; one photograph shows a parade on Mexican Independence Day, while another captures a Mexico City street choked with rural farmers on horseback, riding in solidarity.
Vittorio Vidali returned to Trieste in 1947, the year this album is dated. Vidali continued to be active within the Communist Party, and after 1954, when Trieste became part of Italy again, Vidali served as a member of Italian Parliament.