Leading America Through Local Modernism: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes' (Mexico) Exhibitions and Publications on Architecture, 1950-1952
Formed in 1946 as one of the first acts of President Miguel Aleman Valdes, the Architecture Department of Mexico's lnstituto Nacional de Bellas Artes was a crucial and overlooked platform of both post-war nation building and international diplomacy. Run by architect Enrique Yañez, the department established contemporary architecture as an element of Mexico's cultural heritage, historicizing it even as it continued to evolve. INBA used exhibitions and publications on architecture to establish Mexico as more authentically "American" than its counterparts in the hemisphere, particularly the U.S. It projected Mexico as the future leader of the region architecturally and, by extension, socially, economically, and politically. By the end of Alemán's term, INBA had shaped and disseminated a narrative of architectural development that was tied to the nation's past and thoroughly modern, reflecting the cultural and economic development of the period. Relying on previously unpublished archival sources, government publications, and architectural journals from the 1950s, this thesis analyzes four INBA architecture projects-two exhibitions and two books-to critically understand the fundamental interrelationship of economic development and governmental definition and promotion of culture through contemporary architecture: the first survey of Mexican contemporary architecture, Arquitectura contemporanea mexicana (1950); an exhibition on vernacular architecture, Arquitectura popular mexicana (1952); and two books, Mexico's Modern Architecture (1952) by U.S. architect I.E. Myers based on the 1950 exhibition and Guía de Arquitectura Mexicano Contemporánea / Guide to Contemporary Mexican Architecture (1952) edited by two Mexican architects and publishers.