dusk near Cuernavaca

dusk near Cuernavaca

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mexican Calendars

On Wednesday I took the Metrobus to the far south side of Mexico City to an upscale shopping center called Plaza Loreto.  The shopping center occupies the buildings of a nineteenth century paper factory.  

My goal was not to go shopping, but to visit a museum located within the plaza.  Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico, built the Soumaya Museum to house his huge collection of art.  This smaller museum in Plaza Loreto is also a part of the Slim Foundation and is used for special exhibitions.  Of the several exhibits currently on display, the most interesting was a collection of hundreds of paintings that were used for Mexican calendars.  

Now obviously, calendar art is not the pinnacle of artistic genius, but the paintings do provide an interesting glimpse into Mexican culture.  And one aspect that I thought was very obvious... even though it is never mentioned in the exhibit... is the underlying racism which, as much as some Mexicans might deny it, certainly exists.  As I went through the exhibit I could not help but notice that the majority of the faces portrayed in the paintings were European in appearance.  Of course there are plenty of "European-looking Mexicans", but the media usually ignores the fact that most Mexicans have at least some indigenous ancestry. 

The exhibit is divided by themes.

Aztec mythology was a very popular theme, especially the legend of Popo and Izta, the star-crossed lovers whom the gods transformed into volcanoes so that they would be together forever.


Even here, the two lovers, especially Izta, look like they could be Hollywood movie stars... with nice sun tans.

Figures from Mexico's history are another popular theme.

 Here is Miguel Hidalgo, the "Father of Mexican Independence".

This interesting picture was made for a Mexican bakery in California.  It joins Abraham Lincoln with Mexican President Benito Juárez.  (The two were contemporaries.)  Juárez was a full blooded Zapotec Indian, but it seems here that his strong features have been softened.

Ladies who don't look indigenous were often portrayed wearing traditional, native attire.

In humorous calendar pictures, you are more likely to see the average "man on the street" type of person... but portrayed in a very cartoonish, unflattering manner.

Also represented were religious themes...  

...beer advertisements...

...bathing beauties...

...pictures of cute kids...

...sports themes...

... and the proverbial "good old days" (before the Revolution).



  1. Your articles are purely enough for me.

    1. I'm quite sure if that is meant as a compliment... :-) ... but thank you for visiting my blog.