The Torn Halves of Mexican Modernism: Maples Arce, O'Gorman and Modotti
Latin American modernism is often viewed in terms of a split between national-popular and cosmopolitan tendencies, with critics suggesting that modernist works should contribute to the articulation of an independent cultural identity. This article challenges such a framework on the grounds that it fails to acknowledge the alienation of art from society and the forms of inequality in peripheral capitalism that would prevent modernist works from playing an immediate role in the struggle for cultural independence or identity. The works of the poet Manuel Maples Arce, the architect Juan O’Gorman and the photographer Tina Modotti require a different sort of framework, one that focuses on how they refuse to subordinate the meaning of their works to externals ends, such as the demands of the market. By insisting on the autonomy of their works from commodity production, Maples Arce, O’Gorman and Modotti offer critiques of the limits of the Mexican Revolution and make normative claims about the commitment to a non-capitalist social form.