Culture

Italy and Mexico Partner Up to Bring Hundreds of Stolen Paintings Back To Mexico—Because Art History Matters

March marked a major cultural win for Mexico in regards to its art history.

Earlier this month, it was announced in Rome that hundreds of paintings by unidentified artists in Mexico between the 17th and 20th centuries will be returned to Mexico. The works of art were illegally sold on the black market and taken to Italy in the 1970s.

An example of one of the painting (shown below) were often inscribed with prayers in Spanish and painted on pieces of fabric or wood.

@albertobonisoli / Instagram

At a private ceremony, Italy’s minister of culture Alberto Bonisoli returned the paintings to Mexico’s secretary of culture, Alejandra Frausto Guerrero. Guerrero emphasized the need for countries to partner and return works of art to their original country of origin. For decades, we have seen art stolen from people during wars and times of strife returned to their rightful owners around the globe.

The Italian government wants to be a leader in the restitution of art stolen around the world depriving citizens of their culture.

@albertobonisoli / Instagram

“Today we have the opportunity to return something to the Mexican government and to send a message to the rest of the world that this type of restitution marks a direction we should all take,” Bonisoli said.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported it took almost two years of investigation and diplomatic relations to return the paintings back to Mexico.

The newspaper reported agents from the Carabinieri body for the protection of cultural history became suspicious during an exhibition in Milan and thus began a meticulous search to trace back where those art pieces had originally come from.

The Italian government had to use technology to analyze the images to determine that they were from places of worship in Mexico.

@albertobonisoli / Instagram

According to El Pais, the Carabinieri body partnered with techs from the Italian ministry of culture, began to analyze the iconography and inscription of the paintings, eventually finding that the pieces were taken from different places of worship in Mexico between the 1960s and 1970s and then sold to a wealthy Italian art collector who donated the pieces to two Italian museums after his death.

The 594 paintings are in the ex-voto style of art—a miniature painting or votive offering to a saint.

@divina.arte.chile / Instagram

Often showing the person offering this type of painting overcoming a type of physical distress, these types of paintings are common throughout much of Mexico and Latin America.

Mexican artists have been painting this type of intricate paintings for centuries and continue to do so up to today, typically using pieces of small wood or tin (materials readily available) to paint their mini obras de arte and thank the saint they want to praise.

The ongoing cultural partnership with Italy and Mexico has not only helped return these hundreds of paintings to its rightful country, but Italy is also helping Mexican art curators learn how to best preserve Mexican works of art for museum and history collection.

READ: These Are Some Of The Best Visual Contemporary Visual Artists Taking Over The Art World Right Now

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Mexico Wins International Award For $100 Peso Note Featuring 17th-Century Nun Sor Juana

Culture

Mexico Wins International Award For $100 Peso Note Featuring 17th-Century Nun Sor Juana

Over the last few years, Mexico has been updated its currency to make it more secure from counterfeiters and to highlight the country’s diverse history. One of the country’s newest bills is a $100 peso note featuring a 17th-Century female historical figure and it’s winning major international awards for its design and history.

Mexico’s $100-peso bill has been named banknote of the year for 2020 by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS). As printer and issuer of the note, the Bank of México beat 24 other nominees to the award, and the Sor Juana bill led the way from the start of the voting process.

The note features national heroine Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, with the monarch butterfly biosphere reserve on its reverse.

In its announcement the IBNS wrote: “Mexico’s award-winning entry may provide a template as other countries reconsider how they design and promote new banknotes.  The successful design in eye-pleasing red combines Hispanic architecture, a famous female Hispanic literary figure and a tribute to the world’s fragile ecosystem.”

Past bank note of the year recipients include Aruba, Canada, Uganda, the Faroe Islands, two time winner Switzerland and three time winner Kazakhstan, among others.

So who was Sor Juana and why was she important to Mexico?

Born in 1651, Sor Juana was a self-educated nun and intellectual renowned for her poetry, writing and political activism, who criticized the misogyny of colonial Mexico.

Beginning her studies at a young age, Sor Juana was fluent in Latin and also wrote in Nahuatl, and became known for her philosophy in her teens. Sor Juana educated herself in her own library, which was mostly inherited from her grandfather. After joining a nunnery in 1667, Sor Juana began writing poetry and prose dealing with such topics as love, feminism, and religion.

Mexico was up against 24 other countries in the nomination process.

In second place was Kate Cranston who appears on the Bank of Scotland’s 20 pound note. The businesswoman appears on the obverse and she is recognized for being the owner of the famous tea rooms inaugurated in 1903 and that today are a tourist attraction.

In third place there was a triple tie between the 20 pound note of the Ulster Bank of Northern Ireland whose design features flora and buskers. The one from the Bahamas of 5 dollars with the image of the junkanoo dancer, and the one of 50 dollars from Fiji.

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Protesters In Mexico Take To Streets To Demand Justice For Dog Brutally Killed By Man With An Axe

Things That Matter

Protesters In Mexico Take To Streets To Demand Justice For Dog Brutally Killed By Man With An Axe

Residents of one Mexican city have taken to the streets to demand justice for a local stray dog who was brutally killed in an axe attack last month. Video of the incident was uploaded to social media and quickly went viral, leading to large protests in the Sinaloan city of Los Mochis.

Hundreds marched in Los Mochis to seek justice for a dog killed by man with an axe.

Hundreds took to the streets in Los Mochis, Sinaloa to demand justice for Rodolfo, a mixed breed dog killed with an axe on March 21. They showed banners that read “Justice for Rodolfo & for all who have no voice,” “We won’t stop until we have justice,” and “Justice for Rodolfo,” among others.

Despite the COVID-19 regulations, the participants in this new march, children, women and men, calmly marched through the center of the city of Los Mochis to make it clear that they are against animal cruelty and demanded justice for Rodolfo, who was a local stray dog. The demonstration gained traction after a video of the attack on Rodolfo, also known by Heart, Pirate and Shorty, was uploaded onto social media.

The predominantly young crowd marched to the state prosecutor’s office where environmental activist Arturo Islas Allende delivered a criminal complaint. Many brought their pets to the march and carried placards demanding the killer be sentenced to prison. One placard read: “Justice for Rodolfo and for all those that don’t have a voice.”

The suspected attacker, José “M,” a student at a Sinaloa university, has already delivered a preparatory statement to officials. Islas Allende questioned the morality of the killer. “We don’t want a psychopath like him as our neighbor,” he said.

The suspect’s girlfriend claimed that he killed the dog to protect her.

The girlfriend of the alleged attacker took to social media in his defense, saying the dog had attacked her days earlier and injured her face and hands.

On her Facebook account she claimed that medical treatments for her injuries had cost 8,000 pesos (US $400) and uploaded photographs of the injuries caused by the dog’s bites.

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