By John Dunkelgrün.
Director ARTANA latin American fine art
In general I want to write on cultural subjects to do with The Netherlands, but my experiences on recent trip to Mexico were so special, I’d like to share them with readers of Diplomat Magazine. Most people will have heard of the famous Natural History Museum in Mexico City with its treasures of pre-hispanic art, but there are several other major museums in the same area, like the Tamayo Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. All these are predominantly devoted to Mexican art and are well worth visiting. However, they were recently joined by two new museums that are more international in scope. The first is the Soumaya Museum in the Nuevo Polanco area which houses the collection of Carlos Slim, the Mexican mogul. The architect was his son in law, Fernando Romero, together with Ove Arup and Frank Gehry. The design of the museum is staggeringly beautiful (see photo) and original. There are four oval shaped floors filled with Mexican and international works of art. A whole floor is devoted to sculpture (mainly Rodin and Dali), one to Mexican artists like Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros but also a huge display of pre-hispanic objects. There is a floor with an international collection of XIX and early XXth century paintings, among which quite a few Renoirs. The pity is that in spite of the magnificent building and the big names of the artists, the collection is essentially second rate. The works are placed hotchpotch all over the floor without any obvious plan and the descriptions (only in Spanish) are very minimal. It is a great pity because there are some real gems rarely seen together, especially the Dali bronzes on the top floor.
Right next door is the brand new Jumex Museum which shows the collection of Eugenio Lopez Alonszo and was designed by Davis Chipperfield. The building itself, while less spectacular than the Soumaya, is a real work of art and evidence of cutting edge museum design. It houses by far the best collection of contemporary (1990’s to today) art in Latin America, one of the best private collections in the world. It was brought together by the curators Patricia Martin and Patrick Charpenel. The floors wind around a central utility column with stairs and elevators and are large, bright, and very high without becoming cavernous. I was lucky to be at the pre-opening which among other exhibits had a whole floor devoted to the work of James Lee Byars: “½ an autobiography”.
Mexico City, already well supplied with well over a hundred museums, has just become that much more of a magnet for art lovers.