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I have not run into Adolfo Best Maugard’s work until recently and by mere but happy chance. I was researching on Miguel Covarrubias, a self-made designer, anthropologist and archaeologist who lived and worked between New York and Mexico city and was a key figure for the nationalist cultural movement in Mexico during the first half of the XXth century, when I came across this little book by Elena Poniatowska that collected articles and obituaries after the death of this magnetic figure.

In this book, “Miguel Covarrubias, Vida y Mundos” (Life and Worlds), one can read all the best voices of Mexican culture of the time: the three muralist , Tamayo, Frida and many others among which we find Adolfo Best Maugard, also known as Fito Best. He was a multifaceted creator: a choreographer, a painter, an art academic, an art professor, a film director, a writer, a thinker and an enthusiastic promoter of Mexican culture.

Best Maugard was particularly known for his “Drawing Method”, a small art manual that was distributed among Mexican schools and had a sound influenced in many artist of the following generations such as Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, Abraham Ángel or Frida Khalo. The main thesis that this brief manual claimed was that seven primary lines could very well build any form of Nature. These primary lines or “elements” followed a criteria based on the straight line, the circle and eventually the spiral.

Imagine my surprise when while reading about an anthology exhibition on this artist organized in 2016 in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico city, I run across an odd watercolor dating from 1913 depicting our famous Church of Santa Marina. Obviously the date was added afterwards by the museum and I am yet to find out information about a probable trip to Spain by this artist.

Diego Rivera painted this famous portrait of the all-round artist Adolfo Best Maugard (Mexico city, 1891 – Athens, 1964) also in 1913, during a trip to Paris. At the time Rivera was experimenting with the avant-guard techniques and theories gathered in the French capital. This is a less explored period of his painting, or at least not as popular as his mural works, but it was nonetheless vital for his development as a true artist.

It was then and there that Rivera and Adolfo would meet. In Paris Adolfo was exhibiting some of his landscapes in the Autumn Hall among which I assume one could have found this beautiful and intimate portrait of the Santa Marina Church in Córdoba.


 

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