La Academia 13, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06060 Ciudad de México, CDMX
55 5522 0156
Mexico City has its healthy selection of museums that one can enjoy, each one almost possessing its own singular collection of historical works particular to an era, an aesthetic movement, or a particular individual. One of the city’s most sui-generis museums is the José Luis Cuevas museum located a couple of blocks east of the Zócalo in the middle of the historic center. It’s located in a beautiful colonial building that was once the Santa Inés convent, which housed exactly 33 nuns (in accordance with the age of Jesus Christ), and was divided into two parts, one remains the church of Santa Inés, and the other one is the museum.
José Luis Cuevas was a controversial figure in Mexican art since he first hit the scene, serving as a fierce critic of the muralist movement that came before him and which featured important Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros; who Cuevas claimed were protective of the Mexican government who was their patron. His movement was called the Generación de la Ruptura (“The Breakaway Generation”) and he was labeled as the enfant terrible of the Mexican cultural scene. He also gave the Zona Rosa its name, calling it “too naive to be red, but too frivolous to be white, its something in between”, and in one of his most publicized stunts, he painted a mural in Zona Rosa, only to destroy it as soon as it was finished. He welcomed the attention and relished it, and as such, he had many detractors throughout his life who thought of him as vain and paranoid.
Cuevas bought the convent of Santa Inés in the 1980s and turned it into a museum that would showcase his work and that of other contemporaries. Whatever your opinion of the artist as a person may be, there’s no doubt that some of his work is spectacular and intriguing, such as his giant sculpture in the central courtyard of the museum, aptly named “La Giganta” (“The Giantess”), an androgynous figure of bulbous extremities. Cuevas was provocative in his art and leaned towards the darker side of humanity. One of the exhibits is called the “Erotic Room” which includes a large brass bed on which the artist claims he had many sexual encounters. The museum in total has a collection of 1,860 works by various artists, many from Latin America.
The José Luis Cuevas museum is an interesting stop for anyone interested in art that exhilarates the senses (access is $10 pesos and it can be reached via the “Zócalo” Metro station), and also celebrates the life of a man filled with eccentricities.