Interview

Beyond Frida – Amazing Modern Mexican Art Collection You Didn’t Know About: Andrés Blaisten Museum

Kate Wojtczak 4 April 2022 min Read

With over 12,000 works of art—including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints—the Andrés Blaisten collection is considered the world’s largest and most complete collection of Mexican art. This brilliant collector managed to gather and organize the best pieces by Mexican artists from early colonial times through to contemporary art, with an emphasis on 20th-century stars like José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Maria Izquierdo. We had a great opportunity to talk with Mr. Blaisten about his great admiration for art and his spectacular collection.

Who Is Andrés Blaisten?

andres blaisten

Andrés Blaisten with one of the artworks of his spectacular collection. Mascultura.mx

Andrés Blaisten is a Latin American entrepreneur and art collector. Originally from Argentina, since an early age he has lived in Mexico and this country became his home. He studied painting at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City and at that time already started collecting art by acquiring artworks from fellow students and professors. It quickly became clear that he had a good eye for excellent pieces.

Modern Mexican Art Collection

The collection started by Blaisten was organized and systematized relatively quickly. The owner clearly knew what he is aiming for from an early beginning. With over 12,000 works of art including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints, the Blaisten Collection is considered the world largest and most complete collection of Mexican art.

Blaisten is primarily interested in 20th-century Mexican art. Starting with excellent examples of the famous Mexican School of Painting, through the so-called Generación de la Ruptura (Breakaway Generation), up to contemporary art. The collection, however, also contains masterpieces from earlier periods, Colonial art for example. The collector owns artwork by the most renowned Mexican artists: José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, as well as David Alfaro Siqueiros, but also María Izquierdo, Saturnino Herrán, Ángel Zárraga, Alfredo Ramos Martínez, and Fermín Revueltas, Rodrigo Pimentel, and many more.

The Andrés Blaisten Museum

The collection remains private but in 2007 Blaisten signed a partnership agreement with Mexico’s National Autonomous University to form a museum called the Blaisten Collection Museum within the Tlatelolco Cultural University Center. For a period of five years a considerable part of the collection was exhibited permanently to the public, along with other temporary exhibits curated with the Blaisten Collection as a starting point. Parts of the collection were shown in several museums abroad, e.g. Meadows Museum in Dallas, in 2012.

In 2002 a virtual museum was created, where the whole collection is gathered online for admirers and researcher from all over the world.

Interview with Mr. Blaisten

KW: The Andrés Blaisten Collection is one of the greatest collections of modern Mexican art. How did it all start?

AB: The collection started in the late 1970s and I started buying works by painters from that time. Several of them were my fellow teachers at the National School of Plastic Arts where I studied. Then I decided to start acquiring the works of artists that interested me from the first half of the 20th century in Mexico.

Jesús Guerrero Galván El filósofo, 1948 Blaisten Museum

Jesús Guerrero Galván, El Filósofo, 1948, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: Where does your love for art come from?

AB: In my adolescence, I began to have an interest in going to museums and exhibitions and from there I’ve decided to study as a painter at the National School of Plastic Arts.

Roberto Montenegro Membrillos y manzana, 1942 blaisten museum

Roberto Montenegro, Membrillos y Manzana, 1942, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: What is the main focus of the collection?

AB: It is the modern art of Mexico and it focused on artists whose work is inspired by the search for national identity, but outside of the state policies that sponsored muralism.

Saturnino Herrán Joven con calabaza, 1917 blaisten

Saturnino Herrán, Joven con Calabaza, 1917, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: Who are your favorite artists (generally, not necessarily from the collection)?

AB: In painting I enjoy excellence in execution and the communication that the artist establishes with the viewer. Agnolo Bronzino, El Greco, Miguel Ángel and Alfonso Michel.

Julio Ruelas La domadora, 1897 blaisten

Julio Ruelas, La Domadora, 1897, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: What are your favorite artworks from the collection?

AB: I have no favorites from the collection. I consider all of them of excellent quality and I consider them sisters in terms of predilection.

Rosa Rolanda Autorretrato, ca. 1940 blaisten museum

Rosa Rolanda, Autorretrato, ca. 1940, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: Is there a masterpiece that you still dream of buying?

AB: I have learned over time not to dream and consider the purchase to the extent of the availability of works in the market and my possibilities.

Lola Cueto India Oaxaqueña, 1928 blaisten museum

Lola Cueto, India Oaxaqueña, 1928, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: In the collection there are a significant number of artworks made by women, is there a special idea behind this?

AB: No, there is no special idea. They were acquired for their quality and conceptual excellence regardless of gender.

María Izquierdo Estación tropical, 1940 blaisten

María Izquierdo, Estación Tropical, 1940, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: Among them the great painter María Izquierdo seems to have stolen your heart, given that the collection holds many masterpieces of this forgotten artist. Would you agree that Frida Kahlo unfairly overshadowed her oeuvre?

AB: María Izquierdo, like many other painters, has interested me because of her quality and over the years she has formed an important contingent of her work. Frida Kahlo has not overshadowed the work of Maria Izquierdo. They are very different artists who have been recognized at different times in history. Even Maria Izquierdo was much more recognized in life than Frida Kahlo. The Frida Kahlo phenomenon is from the last 30 years.

María Izquierdo Alacena, 1947 Blaisten museum

María Izquierdo, Alacena, 1947, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: How/where is it possible to see the Andrés Blaisten Collection?

AB: The Blaisten Collection has a website where you can see the work in thematic sets by way of rooms or by artist. You can also see works in national and international museums when they ask us for a loan so that they can dialogue with other collections.

Emilio Amero Desnudo femenino reclinado, ca. 1930 blaisten

Emilio Amero, Desnudo Femenino Reclinado, ca. 1930, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

KW: Will Europe have a chance to see your collection in all its glory soon?

AB: I would love to, but at the moment there has not been any museum that has expressed interest in presenting my collection.

Angelina Beloff La Avenida Hidalgo, 1949 blaisten

Angelina Beloff, La Avenida Hidalgo, 1949, Blaisten Museum, Mexico City, Mexico.

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