The last word in direct naive Realism: Diego Rivera, Edward Weston, and Pulquerías

Monica Bravo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses on the exceptional appeal to modernists of pulquerías: Working-class Mexican bars often generously painted on their exteriors. Specifically, this article focuses on two essays published by Diego Rivera and illustrated with photographs by Edward Weston that appeared in the bilingual journal Mexican Folkways in 1926. Through their praise, the two artists sought to align themselves both aesthetically and politically with the popular. Set against the backgrounds of folk revivals in both the United States and Mexico, as well as the Mexican mural movement, each artist drew on a distinct aspect of the pulquerías to make their own modernist art—Rivera on the tragicomic vacilada and Weston on the tension between representation and the real. Rather than reinforce the binary relationships Rivera and Weston imagined to exist between tradition and modernity, this article argues for the hybridity of both modernist and folk art constructs. Far from requiring either modernist “salvage” or transformation, an idea that forecloses the possibility of folk art’s dynamic development, the pulquerías proved to be equally responsive to the conditions of modernity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-49
Number of pages29
JournalAmerican Art
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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