Tag Archives: william spratzling

Silver, posters and paintings in D.F.

12 Dec

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I said goodbye to Santi, an Argentinian guy I had met in Los Angeles in October.

He was also in Mexico City during those days and we decided to meet up for a walk through the historic center and have lunch together. We went to an apparently popular salad and juices place in the middle of the historic center, close to the Mexican Chinatown.

It is a really little place from the early 80’s where hurried businessman and few tourists delight daily the big variety of salads and fresh fruit juices. I ordered a Caesar salad and a giant orange and carrot juice.

If you are wondering around in that area, just pop by this place called “Ensaladas Alvita” situated in Calle Independencia 8.

We spent few hours together and then I headed to one of the most popular Mexican museums, the Franz Mayer, housed in an amazing building which was formerly an hospital and situated just few steps from the majestic art deco masterpiece “Bellas Artes“.

This great museum hosts permanently the largest collection of decorative arts of Mexico, where you can enjoy pieces of furniture of different styles and materials from XVI Century from all over the world.

I liked it a lot, especially its Chinese porcelain and furniture. And a star-shaped silver mirror whose origins were unclear: there was a caption indicating it came from Spain or Southern Italy.

I enjoyed getting lost among those old furniture, but I most proud myself when I noticed, in the “Italian painting section”, two popular Neapolitan baroque paintings from 1600: Aniello Falcone with his”Battle” and Luca Giordano‘s “Lucrecia’s suicide”.

Franz Meyer museum also hosts regularly important temporary exhibitions of drawings and photography.

From December 7th 2012 to February 17th 2013 it was time for “Legado en plata” – Silver Legacy, exhibition of a great artist from United States, William Spratling.

At the entrance of his space inside the museum there was a white panel with a silver-gray writing :

“the true color of silver is white, the same color as the extreme heat and the extreme cold.
is also the same color as the first food received by a man and is the color of the light. without malleability is an invitation to work it. Lends itself to the formation of objects in three-dimensional drawings and it is very attractive to see objects that through the use of the hands become precious materials”

Spratling is mostly known as a great silver designer, but he was also an adventurer, architect and art collector.

When someone used to ask him how could he make it all so well, he just replied that he simply striven to find the best way to earn a living.

And I agree that the best way to earn a living is doing what we like most. Doing something that passionate us, so to make us able to transfer our enthusiasm to other people and gather sincere appreciation.

I have something in common with William Spratling. He went to Mexico for the first time in 1926 and fell in love immediately. He came back soon for the second time with the excuse to write a book which he actually wrote afterwards, called “Little Mexico” and ended up teaching a course in architecture at UNAM, the University of Mexico City.

I wish I also had in common with him his talent in manufacturing silver, and to have had the chance like him to meet, collaborate and become friends with tho of the art icons in Mexico: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

In 1929 he moved to Taxco, a small town in the state of Guerrero, about 150 km from Mexico city, already popular for silver mining and crafting.

He learned the old silver tradition that influenced his creations from that moment onwards.

Spratling during his art career did not only designed jewelry but also home furniture in different materials, mostly wood.

I personally loved some of its production exposed: an ebony and leather chair with hearts and also a flower bowl with a monkeys shape, in fact called “changos”, in Mexican Spanish, monkeys.

Together with the beautiful silver collection of cutlery, necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets there were mirrors, wood furniture and rugs as well as a a wide collection of creations in jade, gold, ivory, silver and tortoiseshell.

Spratling soon became the silver designer for illustrious people like Marilyn Monroe who used to go on purpose to Taxco just to buy his unique creations, as well as politicians, businessmen and art collectors.

I liked to read about his love for Mexico and how that visit to Mexico changed his life somehow. He spent most of his life in this beautiful country, in his mountain house in Taxco. And honestly, I just can’t blame him. If Mexico engages you with its energy, it is quite hard to escape from it.

Nevertheless, he kept traveling quite a lot to his native United States, and his big, worn out North American passport is actually shown in one of the displays at the Franz Mayer museum.
Spratling helped to improve the worldwide promotion of Taxco, Mexico as a prestigious silver production destination.

In the stunning Franz Mayer museum cloister, that houses a library with more than 14000 volumes, there was from 30th October 2012 to 29th January 2013, an important graphic design exhibition: BICM, Bienal Internacional del cartel en Mexico (The Mexican International Poster Biennal).

Its first edition was in 1990 and it is now considered one of the most representative of its type in the world; 338 posters coming from 43 different countries were selected to compete for the 12th BICM exhibition.

The posters were amazing, divided into different themes such as culture, political and social issues, commercial advertising of events, products and services; there was also a section for young people below 27 years with the theme “Towards a Green Economy, finding solutions to the climate”

Mexico CIty has more museums than any other city of the world. And this one was great.

I was able to see at the same time italian baroque paintings from 1600, contemporary posters of cool young artists, fine cutlery and chinese porcelain from one of the greatest silver designers, all together in one museum. As usually happens in Mexico, I lived so many different experiences and contrasts in one.

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