cover image Essays on Mexican Art

Essays on Mexican Art

Octavio Paz. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $22.95 (303pp) ISBN 978-0-15-129063-5

In one of the essays in this wide-ranging collection, Mexican critic and poet Paz attempts to view the murals of Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco while deliberately setting aside the ideologies of nationalism and Marxism which these painters espoused. Beginning with an analysis of Mesoamerican cosmology, these 14 erudite, lyrical essays, written between 1960 and 1986 and illustrated with color plates, discuss Rufino Tamayo and other contemporary Mexican artists, realist photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo and ``two remarkable women,'' the surrealist-influenced painters Frida Kahlo and Maria Izquierdo. Paz can be esoteric, however, as when he compares pre-Columbian Totonac figurines to laughter in Baudelaire or contrasts the portraits of Mexican village artist Hermenegildo Bustos (1832-1907) with Egyptian sarcophagi portraits associated with the cult of Isis and Osiris. (May)