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March 30, 2010

Mexico City’s Contemporary Art Scene

Courtesy Galeria OMR

Here's how to spend a perfect day exploring art in Mexico City

Mexico City’s contemporary art scene is on fire. Young dealers are opening galleries at an unprecedented pace, especially in the emerging Colonia Roma neighborhood. The big annual contemporary art fair—previously known as the Feria México Arte Contemporáneo and now called Zona Maco—has become a global affair (zonamaco.com). In November an impressive contemporary art museum opened at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Major collectors, like Eugenio López Alonso, have helped unleash phenomenal interest in the scene, enticing new fans—and money. Independent curator Taiyana Pimentel, formerly at the Museo Rufino Tamayo and a well-connected figure here, suggests a tour of the city’s essential art stops. 

The Perfect Day

After breakfast at the Casa Lamm (99 Alvaro Obregón; casalamm.com.mx), a beautifully landscaped 1911 mansion and cultural center in Colonia Roma, it’s a short walk to Galería OMR (54 Plaza Río de Janeiro; galeriaomr.com). This grande dame of the local art scene represents a number of prominent Mexican artists and exhibits at international fairs, as does Nina Menocal (56 Rafael Rebollar; ninamenocal.com), started by Cuban émigrée Menocal in 1990. Nearby, the newer spaces Garash Galería (49 Alvaro Obregón; garashgaleria.com) and MUCA Roma (51 Tonalá; mucaroma.unam.mx) show edgier work by younger artists.

Heading west into the hip Condesa district, it’s worth stopping for fresh juice or coffee at Frutos Prohibidos (244 Amsterdam; frutosprohibidos.com) before checking out shows by prominent multimedia artists like Gabriel Orozco and Carlos Amorales at Kurimanzutto (94 Rafael Rebollar; kurimanzutto.com). The Museo Rufino Tamayo (Reforma and Gandhi; museotamayo.org) in the Bosque de Chapultepec park is a must-see on the way to the upscale Polanco neighborhood, a great choice for lunch. Mi Gusto Es (4609 Periférico Sur; migustoes.com.mx) has excellent seafood in an informal setting, and Pujol (254 Francisco Petrarca; pujol.com.mx) offers fancier Mexican fusion. Galleries in the area include relative newcomer KBK Arte Contemporáneo (42 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra) and Enrique Guerrero (1549 Horacio; galeriaenriqueguerrero.com), which also focuses on emerging artists.

The Centro Histórico district is home to the museums for traditional art and works by early-20th-century masters, among them the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. Near the Palacio Nacional, the Ex Teresa Arte Actual (8 Licenciado Verdad; exteresaarteactual.blogspot.com), a former Baroque church, features an always interesting program of installation pieces. When it’s dinnertime the Sheraton Centro Histórico Hotel’s El Cardenal restaurant (70 Avda. Juárez; restauranteelcardenal.com), in the central plaza El Zócalo, is a longtime local favorite for its seasonally changing menu of provincial Mexican fare.

If you can spare part of another day, make an appointment to visit Eugenio López Alonso’s Fundación/Colección Jumex (272 Vía Morelos, Colonia Sta. María Tulpetlac, Ecatepec; fundacionjumex.org). Housed in a factory building on the city’s outskirts, it’s one of the largest private collections in Latin America.