A place known for its tacos and tequila doesn’t have to do much more to lure in visitors, but that hasn’t stopped Mexico. In recent years, the Mexican art scene has become one of the hottest on the continent. With its sunny climate, cheap rent (cheaper than L.A. and New York, at least) and a youthful, open spirit, in the last decade, Mexico City has become a gritty but free-spirited hotbed of creativity to rival ’70s NYC.
But with a steady stream of world-class museum exhibits and new art fairs and galleries popping up like mushrooms, Mexico probably won’t stay gritty and underground for long. The bustling and vibrant Mexican art scene is bringing in a steady stream of international visitors and transplants. Some of them are searching for a less crowded (read: competitive) job circuit, some are searching for a young, exciting market, and some are just on the prowl for salsa so hot it’ll make you cry harder than when your crush stood you up at your high school prom. But whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Mexico.
So next time you’re in L.A., pop across the border and boogie on over to Mexico City. You’ll discover for yourself the magical streets that Alfonso Cuarón immortalized in last year’s Oscar-winning film Roma (which you can stream on Netflix !!). We can argue about whether Yalitza Aparicio should’ve taken home the Best Actress award another time, but for now, meet 20 leading ladies running the Mexican art scene.
Art consultant, contemporary specialist and founder of Incontemporary art advisory. She’s also the co-founder, Partner and Director of VIP Relations of Material Art Fair, which just held its sixth edition in Mexico City in February—and according to her (sadly private) IG bio, mamá of Hernanchik and his twin sisters, Natalia and Carlota. Aw.
Founder and director of Zona MACO art fair in Mexico City, the country’s largest and most important art fair. No small feat of planning and organization, this accomplishment landed her on Lideres Mexicanos’ “Los 300” list of influential Mexicans at number 117. To read more about García’s experience with Zona MACO—and her personal can’t-miss bars and restaurants in the bustling capital—check out this profile in Art Zealous. And for a peek inside her art-filled home, click here.
Director of MAM (Museo de Arte Moderno) in Mexico City. Under her leadership, MAM has put on some stellar exhibits of women artists, including Cuentos mágicos, a retrospective of Leonora Carrington, last year. The museum has a can’t-miss collection of Mexican twentieth-century art, including work by Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and other giants of Mexican modernism.
Art historian and director of Museo Anahuacalli, which was created by Diego Riviera as a “temple for culture” to house his extensive collection of pre-Colombian art. The museum also boasts organic functionalist architecture by Riviera’s friend Juan O´Gorman and an “ecological space” that brings flora and fauna to the local community. Trujillo Soto is also the director of Frida Kahlo’s house museum, Casa Azul, in Mexico City.
IG: @anahuacalli, @museofridakahlo
Director of MUAC, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City, and General Director of Visual Arts at UNAM, National Autonomous University of Mexico. One of the capital’s major museums, MUAC’s collection covers the time period since 1952, effectively picking up where most other Mexican museums left off. De la Torre’s long career in public arts education recently landed her at #84 on Lideres Mexicanos’ “Los 300.”
Artistic director of Museo Jumex, which houses major Mexican contemporary art collector Eugenio López Alonso’s collection. She’s also an art historian and a pioneer of Latin American art history, currently serving as adjunct curator of modern and contemporary art at Museu de Arte de São Paolo. Over her long and impressive curatorial career, she’s held positions of Adjunct, Senior and Associate Curator at the Tate Modern, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, among others. Most recently, her project Memories of Underdevelopment, part of the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, toured the American West Coast, traveling between San Diego and Mexico City.
Check out her profile in Frieze here and her feature in Sotheby’s Museum Network here.
With her partner, Jaime Riestra.
After an education in Museum Studies at Paris-IV Sorbonne, Ortiz Monasterio returned to her native Mexico to open what would become one of, if not the, top gallery in the country, Galería OMR, along with her husband, Jaime Riestra. The definition of a power art couple, the two have been a fixture on the Mexican art scene for decades, but their influence doesn’t end at the border. They’ve also sat on boards and organizational committees of museums and fairs around the world, including Art Chicago, ARCO Madrid and Zona MACO.
For the past four decades, García Cepeda has devoted her career to promoting art and culture in Mexico’s public sector. She served as the previous Secretary of Culture until 2018, and her Wikipedia biography is littered with the acronyms of various prestigious Mexican cultural and educational posts: FONART, INBAL, SEP, FONCA AND CONACULTA. In 2018, she was named #116 on Lideres Méxicanos’ “Los 300.”
Current Secretary of Culture, who replaced García Cepeda in 2018. Before, she was the cultural director of the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana, the badass poet nun who you don’t even know you’re obsessed with yet. A member of the faculty of law at UNAM, Guerrero specializes in bringing art into the public sphere, according to a profile in El Universal… which is great news, since bringing art to the public is exactly what a good Secretary of Culture does. Keep an eye out for exciting projects and initiatives coming out of her office soon!
Director of National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature of Mexico (Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes Y Literatura). López may technically be an anthropologist by training, but over the course of her long and impressive career, she’s become something of a national treasure in the arts sphere. She has been deeply involved in UNESCO’s cultural activities, including being named an expert in cultural governance as a means to development. I don’t know what it means, but it’s provocative. Before taking the helm of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes Y Literatura in 2018, she was the director of Mexico’s Centro Nacional de las Artes (National Center for the Arts).
Previously the director of Museo Nacional de Arte, San Carlos, which houses European art from the fourteenth to the start of the twentieth century. It’s one of the best places in Mexico to see classical European art in every style, from Gothic to Impressionism. Housed in a baroque/neoclassical hybrid building in the Colonia Tabacalera, near Mexico City’s historic center, and complete with an art library, the museum is a necessary stop for any European art history buffs who find themselves on this side of the Atlantic.
With so much young, fresh and sexy contemporary art exploding out of Mexico City, hyping up fourteenth century altarpieces is no small feat. But Rojo has proved herself more than up to the challenge, putting on an enticing menu of exhibitions. Under Rojo’s directorship, the young museum, just over a decade old, has brought in exhibits by the likes of Goya, Sorolla and Warhol in addition to its permanent collections. Now she is spearheading the National Museum of Art.
Director and Partner at Proyectos Monclova, one of Mexico City’s most buzz-worthy contemporary art galleries. Russian-born curator Stroganova has done no small share of moving—she’s lived in seven cities on four continents before landing in Mexico City, where she served as Special Advisor to Material Art Fair’s first edition. For a peek at her impressive art collection, click here.
Daughter of artists, Mariscal studied at MoMA and Sotheby’s Art Institute in New York before returning to Mexico to found Marso Gallery, where she has been director since 2011. Since ceasing its gallery activities in 2018, Marso has been reborn as Fundación Marso, a non-profit cultural and curatorial initiative that recently rolled out an exciting new program beginning in spring 2019. These days, Marso is focusing on a four-pronged program of exhibitions, residencies, education and editorial.
IG: @fundacionmarso & @sofiamariscal (she’s private, guys, sorry)
With partner José Kuri.
One half of power couple behind Kurimanzutto, dubbed Mexico’s most prominent gallery by Art Review. In 2018, Manzutto and Kurimanzutto co-founder José Kuri came in at #34 on Art Power 100. A former model who speaks a casual five languages, Manzutto founded Kurimanzutto along with Kuri back in 1999, when the two were both graduate students in New York.
The gallery held its inaugural show in a market, with artworks priced no more than the knickknacks they were hanging alongside. In 2003 came the Venice Biennale, and the rest, as they say, is art history. Until 2008, the gallery had no fixed location but pioneered a flexible, nomadic model that allowed it to invest all its efforts and money into traveling and building up a roster of artists, which still forms the core of the gallery’s philosophy and its recipe for success. To read more about Manzutto and Kuri’s stunning trajectory, check out this profile.
Associate curator at Museo Tamayo, the prominent Mexico City contemporary art museum founded by Rufino Tamayo. The still-young curator might be early in her career, but she already has quite a few notches on her belt: an award from the Ministry of Culture of Colombia for her curatorial work; a travel grant from the Getty Foundation to represent Colombia at the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art in Doha; a post as curator in residence at FLORA ars+natura in Colombia, where she organized shows featuring artists like Doris Salcedo, Lucia Koch, Antonio Caro and many more.
Just under two years ago, Desjardins touched down in Mexico City to join the Museo Tamayo curatorial team. We can’t wait to see more of her work, and in the meantime, if you stop by Museo Tamayo, you might be able to catch her leading a guided exhibition visit.
Curator of Reading Material section in Material Art Fair 2019. She also co-founded Ediciones Hungría, a Mexico City-based multidisciplinary studio that develops and supports local arts and artisans, and where she is currently editor. In August 2018, she was selected to be part of the Berlin Biennale’s Curator’s Workshops. Catch her latest project is opening March 21 at Casa de Francia in Mexico City: Caniche in Space, an exploration based on the printed periodical art magazine Revista Caniche.
Fabiola started her career in the editorial business as a producer in New York. After four intense years of living, gaining experience and working for magazines from around the world, she felt attracted to go back to her hometown, México City. As soon as she arrived she felt inspired to start shooting and it was there were her career as a photographer began. At the same time, she founded an independent fashion and culture magazine named 192. Since then 8 years have passed of non stop working in the editorial and commercial industry from México and other countries, as well as her magazine, a biannual publication of 400 pages which continues strongly.
Co-founders and Editor-in-Chief / Director (respectively) of Revista 192. For the past nine years, Revista 192 has been the Mexican cool girl’s go-to guide for all things art, fashion, beauty and lifestyle. You know you’ve made it when Vogue taps you to spill your insider secrets on Mexico City. According to the profile, the two are working on a book about female entrepreneurship, helping other women get where they have in their careers—something we can totally get behind. Aside from running Revista, both also have lovely IG feeds, which is no surprise considering Zamora is also a photographer.
IG: @fabiolazamora & @danaesal
Founder of LABOR gallery in Mexico City, which was its country’s representative on this year’s selection committee for Material Art Fair. LABOR shows undiscovered local talent and promotes a sustainable and affordable local art scene, but this doesn’t stop it from exhibiting at international art fairs like Art Basel Miami. Before opening LABOR, Echeverría cut her teeth at Museo Tamayo, Fundación Jumex, Carrillo Gil Museum and OMR Gallery. For her insider guide of Mexico City, click here (you’ll prob have to do some Google translating, though; it’s in German).
Well-established curator, collector, historian and Mexican art world fixture for decades. Since the 1990s, Martín has been making a name for herself as an independent curator promoting contemporary art in Mexico and abroad. She has been the head of three of the most important Mexican contemporary art collections: Casa Wabi, Fundación Alumnos 47, and Fundación Jumex, which she co-founded with Eugenio López. She’s curated countless exhibitions for artists like Ugo Rondinone, Rodney Graham, On Kawara and Gabriel Orozco. As her curatorial career progressed, she began to collect art, and has now amassed a collection of nearly 200 pieces. She’s hinted that she may one day display her collection to the public—fingers crossed!
A 20-years and counting art world patron of the Mexican scene, Aimee Servitje is not only a leading member of the non profit organization PAC, but was also directing the foundation of the local Museo Tamayo. She also joined the Latin American Acquisition Board of Tate in 2017.
Text by Katya Lopatko