Abraham Ángel: Between Wonder and Seduction, the first major survey of the Mexican artist’s work in 35 years and the first dedicated showing of his paintings in the U. S., opens Sept. 10 at the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibition shines a spotlight on his singular artistic style, and will remain on display through Jan. 28, 2024.
Ángel’s life and career were cut tragically short when he died at 19, a suspected suicide, only three years after he began painting at 16. During that brief period he captured the rapidly changing society and culture of Mexico City in the 1920s, as part of the Mexican modernism narrative.
“We are thrilled to present the first full retrospective of a magnificent artist whose life was cut tragically short just as his works were taking the Mexican art scene by surprise in the 1920s,” said Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “Living in a society that was not ready for him, Ángel suffered harassment and discrimination during his lifetime, but his art embodies joy and vivacity while tracing Mexico’s transformation from rural to modernized.”
“This exhibition reveals to the world the artistic qualities which had no precedent and no comparison within his times. Ángel’s life story continues to resonate, and his art will captivate audiences of today as it did a century ago,” Dr. Arteaga said.
Abraham Angel Paintings
Praised as one of the leading artists of his generation, Abraham Ángel (1905–1924) produced just 24 paintings—four of which remain lost—during his brief career. At the age of 16, Ángel met the painter Adolfo Best Maugard, who had developed an important drawing method based on the combination of seven basic design elements.
In the wake of the Mexican Revolution, the Maugard Method was embraced by the nation’s education system for its underlying message that anyone could learn to create compelling works of art with the proper training. Ángel joined a generation of young students and artists who explored the potential of the Maugard Method. Its influence is evident in his early works.
Over the next two years, as Ángel immersed himself in the cultural scene of Mexico City and began an intense romantic relationship with artist Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, he developed a distinct visual language and style. The young artist’s sudden death at 19, by an overdose, shocked the Mexican art world. His early death made him a legendary figure, and cemented his place in the canon of modern Mexican art.
Eulogies were written by Mexico’s greatest cultural luminaries, including the poet Salvador Novo and the painter Diego Rivera. They praised Abraham Ángel’s work for its vivacity, individuality and uninhibited expression of “Mexicanidad” or “Mexicanness.” Across Ángel’s paintings, the young artist explores the intersections between national and personal identity through the natural environment, Indigenous cultures and urban life.
Dr. Mark A. Castro
The exhibition was curated by Dr. Mark A. Castro, the DMA’s former Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art, Between Wonder and Seduction will explore these themes by bringing Ángel’s unique works into dialogue with those of his contemporaries.
“Despite the shortness of his career, Ángel had an immense impact on Mexico City’s artistic scene in the early 1920s. Tapping into the capital’s emerging queer subculture, Ángel’s work asserted his own identity and in doing so carved out space for future queer artists in Mexico,” Dr. Castro said. “Although the achievements of his life have sometimes been overshadowed by his untimely death, viewing Ángel’s body of work together underscores the bold and colorful imagination of this young artist. The exhibition reinforces his status as a leading figure in modern Mexican art.”
Abraham Ángel: Between Wonder and Seduction
The exhibition will be accompanied by the first English-language publication on the artist. Upon leaving DMA, the exhibition will travel to the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, where it will be on view from March 16 to July 9, 2024.
Catalogue Abraham Ángel: Between Wonder and Seduction will be accompanied by the first English-language publication on the artist. While previous scholarship surrounding the artist has focused on the circumstances of his untimely death, original essays by Dr. Mark A. Castro and Mireida Velázquez shift the spotlight to Ángel’s innovative and enduring work. His work reflects the broader political, social and cultural currents that were transforming Mexico in the wake of the country’s violent revolution.
Abraham Ángel: Between Wonder and Seduction is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art in association with the Museo de Arte Moderno. INBAL/Secretaría de Cultura, Mexico City. The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Members and donors, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture.
DMA is planning a number of special programs in connection with the exhibition, including a free Community Day on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Admission to the exhibition is free, presented by Arcosa. “Talk: The Myth of Suicide will be held at 2 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium. Dr. Peter Thomas, Foundation 45 psychologist, will lead a mental health discussion on the myth of suicide in relation to Abraham Angel’s last work, “I Killed Myself for a Traitorous Woman.” Foundation 45 is a local nonprofit that serves the Dallas–Fort Worth creative community by providing free top-tier mental health and recovery services.
Dallas Museum of Art is located at 1717 North Harwood in the downtown Arts District of Dallas. Free admission to the museum and many of its programs is available to all, and DMA members also receive free admission to major exhibitions and other special programming. For upcoming exhibitions and additional admission information to any of the museum exhibitions or programs, please visit dma.org.