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Guide to the Felipe Ehrenberg Papers, ca. 1964-2000
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Abstract: The papers contain correspondence, photographs, and other material representing over thirty-five years of artist Felipe Ehrenberg's professional career. Painter, illustrator, printer, publisher, and teacher, Ehrenberg also was active in social and political causes, particularly in promoting the political the rights and culture of indigenous peoples.
Artist, publisher, essayist, teacher, and activist, Felipe Ehrenberg was born in Tlacopac, Mexico City, in 1943. Best known at the international level for his exploration of unorthodox visual mediums such as mail and media art, performance and installation works, he is also highly regarded as a book artist and an early proponent of grass-roots publishing enterprises. First trained as a printer, Ehrenberg went on to receive instruction as a visual and graphic artist under various teachers and mentors, notably muralist José Chávez Morado and Matthías Goeritz. As early as 1960, Ehrenberg's work first appeared in a collective exhibit presented at the Galería de la Paz, Mexico D.F., and subsequently his work was included in other collective efforts staged in Mexico City and Acapulco during 1963-1964. His first solo exhibitions, La Montana and Dibujos y Epoxis, were mounted in 1965 at the Galeria del Centro de Arte y Artesania and Galería 1577 respectively, in Mexico City. From 1964 through 1967, he served as the editor for the arts section of the Mexico City Times, an English-language newspaper, where he also wrote a film column under the alias "Montenegro." Throughout the latter part of the Sixties, Ehrenberg's work appeared frequently in both solo and group exhibitions, gaining some international notice with showings in Texas and New Jersey, as well as Argentina. In 1968, he represented Mexico in the Salon Codex de Pintura Latinoamericana held in Buenos Aires, and was awarded the Femirama Prize for painting. 1968 also marked a year of political turmoil throughout the world, and Mexico proved no exception. One week before the Olympic Games was scheduled to open in Mexico City, the army moved in to end a student strike that threatened to disrupt the event. With reportedly as many as several hundred people killed and over one thousand imprisoned, Ehrenberg decided the situation was untenable and emigrated to England. There, in conjunction with David Mayor and Martha Hellion, he helped found Beau Geste Press / Libro Accion Libre, an artist-in-residence collective dedicated to presenting the works of a number of important visual poets, conceptualists, neo-dadaists and experimental artists, many of whom were closely linked to the Fluxus movement. While residing in England, Ehrenberg also co-founded the Poligonal Workshop, and was awarded the Perpetua Prize for the book design and illustration of Opal Nation's "The Man Who Entered Pictures", presented to him by Southwestern Arts Association/British Arts Council in 1974. Ehrenberg returned to Mexico in 1974, taking up residence in Xico, a small city in the state of Veracruz. In a continuation of his collaborationist methodology he joined with Víctor Munoz, Carlos Finck and Jose Antonio Hernandez Amezcua, to found Grupo Proceso Pentagono, a seminal event that blossomed into the now-famed Group Movement. In addition to pursuing a career as a professional artist, Ehrenberg also took up teaching upon his return, specializing in installation art, cultural activism and artists' administration at Universidad Veracruzana. Intrigued by the duality of Latin-America culture, he applied for and received a 1975 Guggenheim fellowship to study "schizophrenic attitudes and schismatic manifestations in the visual arts as a result of bi-lingualism." (Cite source) In 1979 he founded H2O (Haltos 2 Ornos) Talleres de Comunicación, a group of 25 art instructors who taught independent publishing and mural art workshops. During the following ten years, H2O conducted the founding of nearly 500 small community and group presses, and the painting of nearly 1,100 collective murals throughout Mexico. Ehrenberg's interest in the socio-cultural aspects of art and community involvement brought him further into the public arena in the 1980s. While still showing his work in both solo and group exhibitions, he ran unsuccessfully for congressional office in 1982 as a member of PSUM, (Partido Socialista Unificado de México), and later became actively involved with protecting the Tepito barrio of Mexico City from land developers in the aftermath of the 1985 earthquake. When an earthquake struck the San Jacinto barrio of San Salvador a year later, Ehrenberg coordinated a rebuilding program through Barrio a Barrio, an organization dedicated to promoting self-help based upon the experiences of the residents of Tepito. For his efforts on behalf of both barrios, he received the Roque Dalton Medal from the Consejo de Cooperacion con la Cultura y la Sciencia en El Salvador (CONCISES) in 1987. In 1984, Ehrenberg served as a guest lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he offered a seminar in Art and Politics, as well as other coursework in art history. He returned in 1988 to repeat Art and Politics, and added Making Things Visible: The Artist As Activist to his teaching curriculum. For well over two decades, starting in the mid-1970s, a major artistic theme of Ehrenberg's has been Death, especially in conjunction with the adaptation of indigenous Mexican traditions to Christianity. Invariably, he continues to present either an exhibition of drawings, paintings or a large installation, in the form of a non-traditional altar, to celebrate the Day of the Dead. In a similar vein, Ehrenberg frequently explores other aspects of the cross-cultural experience through his work. In the Fall of 1990, as a visiting artist at Nexus Press, (Atlanta), he published the Codex Aeroscriptus Ehrenbergensis, an anthology of his most recent stencil iconography, and in October of that same year, Ehrenberg created a large, out-door installation titled "Light Up Our Border - I," commissioned by the Archer Huntington Gallery of the University of Texas at Austin. And, following in November, he constructed the "Light up Our Border - II" installation piece at the Bridge Center For Contemporary Art, in El Paso, Texas. These two works, as well as "Curtain Call," a two-part installation built for In-SITE 94 (San Diego/Tijuana), dealt with the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. In November 1992, Ehrenberg presented a major project, an ambitious multifaceted oeuvre called Preterito Imperfecto (Past Imperfect) at the prestigious Carrillo Gil Museum, in Mexico City. Mostly installation pieces, the works dealt with the 500th Commemoration of the encounter between the three continents, America and Europe as well as Africa. The exhibition was later displayed at different venues in Mexico, the USA and Canada. (Cite?) Throughout the latter part of the 1990s and into the present, Ehrenberg has remained active as both an artist and essayist, specializing in art theory and contemporary culture. In 1994, he constructed Tercera Llamada / Curtain Call, a diptych installation at the Centro Cultural de Tijuana (CECUT), in Mexico, and at the Santa Fe Train Depot in San Diego, for inSITE 94. For Configura-2 (Erfurt, Germany) in 1995, Ehrenberg built "Tzompantli", an out-of-doors installation made with 15th Century beams and planks. This last work became the very first installation piece to be acquired for the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico. Published early in 1996 by Mexico's Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Vidrios rotos y el ojo que los ve (Broken glass and the eye that looks at it)", is a selected anthology of Ehrenberg's newspaper columns. More recently, he presented two solo efforts in 1999, Virgenes Y Victimas ... y algo más; 15 años de estampas gráficas, and Violentus / Violatus, a graphic realization of Ehrenberg's deep frustration with the economic dependency of Mexico on "white, elegant yuppies in their expensive suits that sharecrop the country's rich harvest." (http://ehrenberg.tripod.com/presentacion2.html) A Fellow in Mexico's National System for Creators, Ehrenberg currently resides in Brazil, where he is Cultural Attache at the Mexican Embassy.
52.5 linear feet
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