Montenegro y Nervo, Roberto (1887–1968)

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Montenegro y Nervo, Roberto (1887–1968)

Roberto Montenegro y Nervo (b. 19 February 1887; d. 1968), Mexican artist. Montenegro, a native of Guadalajara, began his artistic studies at an early age in his hometown. Later, he traveled to Mexico City and enrolled in the Academy of San Carlos. In 1905, he was given a fellowship for European study by the Education Ministry and stayed, initially in Paris, later in Madrid, until 1920, becoming friends with the most important artistic and literary figures of the time, some of whom he met through his cousin, the poet Amado Nervo.

Upon his return to Mexico, Montenegro y Nervo developed a strong interest in folk art, in pursuit of which he published Pinturas mejicanas 1800–1860; painted murals in such important locations as the Colegio de San Pedro y San Pablo, the Ministry of Education, and other distinguished venues; and in 1921, along with Dr. Atl and others, he held the first exhibit of folk art in Mexico. Throughout his adult life he gathered a superb collection of masks, which he donated to the Ministry of Education. In 1934 he became director of the Museum of Popular Art and head of the department of plastic art at the National Institute of Fine Arts. At the same time, Montenegro pursued an interest in the ballet, designing scenery for the screen version of Coppélia and helping Marc Chagall with the sets for the ballet Aleko. In 1958 he completed a mosaic, Apollo and the Muses, for the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara. Throughout his career he was also known as a distinguished portraitist, capturing such celebrities as Diego Rivera, Carlos Chávez, Lázaro Cárdenas, and Alfonso Reyes. In 1967 he won the National Prize for the Fine Arts. He died on a train traveling between Mexico City and Pátzcuaro.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century .


Erika Billeter, ed., Images of Mexico: The Contribution of Mexico to Twentieth Century Art (1987).

Justino Fernández, Roberto Montenegro (1962).

Additional Bibliography

Balderas, Esperanza. Roberto Montenegro: La sensualidad renovada. Coyoacán, México: CENIDIAP, 2001.

Ortiz Gaitán, Julieta. Entre dos mundos: Los murales de Roberto Montenegro. México: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México, 1994.

                                         Barbara A. Tenenbaum

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Montenegro y Nervo, Roberto (1887–1968)

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