The Salón de la Plástica Mexicana, literally Salon of Mexican Visual Art, opened in 1949. It was world-famous since it opened. The Salón has hosted many of the most representative works created in the 20th century. Today, it’s largely considered a Modernist, 20th-century and, often enough, a contemporary art museum, as well.
The gallery and museum began as an initiative of the Mexican Federal Government to promote and support the visual arts. Throughout its long history, the organization has exhibited works by hundreds of painters, sculptors, engravers, draftsmen, potters and photographers of different movements and generations.
A Solid 20th Century of Art
Historically, the space has not been inside of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It began in the gallery, Mont-Orendáin, for many years in the City’s Historic Center of Mexico City. It was famous for staying open until 10 p.m. every night, except Mondays.
Facing a very competitive market, the original gallery kept strict rules for artists exhibited. It managed to turn a profit, year after year, even following these super high standards. A permanent collection from purchases famously included, first, Frida Kahlo’s Embrace of Love.
By the 1970s, new generations of artists were challenging the assumptions of the old. These were the kinds of challenges and triumphs that art history students find highly enlightening. As the organization grew and changed, the Colonia Roma location opened. This location later became the headquarters.
The Salón de la Plástica Mexicana is still the official visual arts museum and exhibition space for the INBAL. That’s the country’s leading arts and literature organization. The name has actually turned around to sound funky and cool again. But the Salón has interestingly retained its grip on the cutting edge. Often enough, that means you’ll find some of the finest hard-to-find 20th century work. There’s also a lot that surprisingly new and fresh, even in the oldest of the old-school.