Adolfo Best Maugard

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Adolfo "Fito" Best Maugard
Born (1891-06-11)June 11, 1891
Mexico City
Died August 25, 1964(1964-08-25) (aged 73)
Nationality Mexican
Education Europe, United States
Known for Painting, Film/Directing, Screenwriting
Notable work caricatures
Untitled (Standing Woman Reaching for a Flower) by Adolfo Best Maugard

Adolfo Best Maugard also known as Fito Best (June 11, 1891 – August 25, 1964[1]) was a Mexican painter, film director and screenwriter.


In his early life Best made some detailed illustrations of prehispanic excavation findings in the Valley of Mexico for Franz Boas.[2] He completed his art studies in Europe where he met Diego Rivera for his first time, by whom he was portrayed in 1913. This oil painted portrait belongs to the current collection of the Museo Nacional de Arte[3]

In 1914 he removed to Mexico where he taught at the upcoming plein-air painting schools. He confronted Mexican folk art and added modern and rational stylistic elements to his paintings, which often included figurative caricatures. In mid-1919, he continued his studies in the United States, returning to Mexico in 1920. At the Secretariat of Public Education he was director of the department for art education between 1921 and 1924. His drawing methods found their way into art education at Mexican schools in 1922 and over 200,000 pupils were influenced by his drawing manual "Manuales y Tratados: Metodo de dibujo: tradition, resurgimiento y evolucion del arte mexicano" in 1923. Also he wrote some books of art history in this years. In 1931, he was commissioned by the Mexican government to assist Sergei Eisenstein at filming "¡Qué viva México!" whereby he got influence on Russian cinematics. In 1932, Best-Maugard became a member of the Consejo de Bellas Artes (Council of Fine Arts) as well the Consejo de Asuntos Culturales (Council of Cultural Affairs) in the Distrito Federal de México. Also he was a member of the Society of Geography and Statistics (Sociedad de Geografía y Estadística) and of the Mexican Union of Film Directors. In 1933 he was representative of the department of fine arts of the council for primary education. From 1932 to 1935 he worked in the marketing branch of the Lotería Nacional de México|National (Lottery for Public Benefits). In 1933, he directed the filming of "Humanidad" (Humanity) and in 1937, "La Mancha de Sangre" (The blood spot) based on his own script, which was first performed in June 1943.

Adolfo Best Maugard was a Mexican modernist painter and writer under Pofirio Diaz’s regime. He founded the universalism method in drawing. His book, Método de dibujo: Tradición, resurgimiento y evolución del arte mexicano (Drawing Method: Tradition, Resurgence, and Evolution of Mexican Art) would explain the seven elements in drawing. The Best Maugard method was fundamental to modernist aesthetic in Mexico. His style and method was a proposal for defining mexicanidad (Mexicanness). His approach to explaining universalism in drawing is based on the principles of formal abstraction and fusion; which then creates an alternative to the rhetorical, didactic, and figurative art that is later known as the “Mexican School”. His method introduced a visual vocabulary and grammar for the foundation of Mexican art by drawing on elements extracted from pre-Hispanic art, which he argued determined the characteristics of Mexican popular art in combination with elements from Europe and Asia. In his book, Fig.1 Best Maugard illustrated the seven primary elements in the primitive art of all nations: the spiral, the zig-zag line, and the straight line—which are transformed by each race of nation, and correlations to the distinctive characteristics of its society and environment. His method is strictly about aestheticism and its formal qualities, and not their symbolic content. Best Maugard’s pursuit to uncover universal laws of artistic development is a reflection of Mexico’s cientificos. He applied positivism into drawing by using the natural sciences as a model. He sought to reveal scientific laws relevant to all social phenomena and understanding the development of human society as a rising progression from the savage or primitive state to modern civilization. He conceived his theory of the seven basic elements of Mexican art through his time as an assistant to archaeologist Gamio. Gamio introduced him to Boas, a professor at Columbia University in New York. Boas’ research on refuting the concept of racial determinism was a great influence on Best Maugard’s drawing method. During his time as an assistant to Gamio, he catalogued and drew more than two thousand ceramic objects selected by Boas.[4]

Best-Maugard was a good friend of Rosa Covarrubias and Miguel Covarrubias and had several contacts to artist and poetry groups in the United States.[5]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Historia de una mancha (Spanish), La Jornada Michoacán.
  2. ^ From a Mexican Perspective - The Vision of Adolfo Best Maugard.
  3. ^ Diego Rivera Retrato de Adolfo Best Maugard (1913)
  4. ^ Cordero Reiman, Karen (2010). "The Best Maugard drawing method : a common ground for modern Mexicanist aesthetics". The journal of decorative and propaganda arts (26): 44–79. OCLC 887175083. 
  5. ^ Adolfo Best Maugard 1891-1965 (Spanish), biography.