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Guide to the Felipe Ehrenberg Papers, ca. 1964-2000
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Access Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Felipe Ehrenberg papers,
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1964-2000
    Collection number: M1218
    Creator: Ehrenberg, Felipe
    Extent: 52.5 linear feet
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Abstract: 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.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    There are no restrictions on access.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.

    Preferred Citation

    Felipe Ehrenberg Papers. M1218. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    Purchased, 2000 and 2001


    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.

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    The Felipe Ehrenberg Papers are divided into seventeen series, of which the first eleven were initially created by Ehrenberg himself. Series 1, Correspondencia, contains five subseries: 1a. Personal and Professional; 1b. International Organizations and Publications; 1c. National Organizations and Publications; 1d. Miscellaneous Correspondence; and 1e. Printouts of Email, Documents, and Other Miscellaneous Material Contained on Zip Disk. The first three subseries, 1a-1c, were originally defined by Ehrenberg, while 1d and 1e were created to accommodate additional unlisted material. Series 2, Criticas y Cronistas, contains: correspondence; postcards; photographs; reprints, printouts, copies and photocopies of periodical articles; of art critics and commentators. The material in Series 3, Varios Politicas, consists of mostly photocopied newspaper articles regarding political issues throughout Latin America, brochures and flyers from various political organizations, some correspondence, and a few photographs. This series also contains material from Ehrenberg's Guggenheim linguistic project. Series 4, Beau Geste Press, holds mostly correspondence, some photographs, brochures from other presses, and typscript, notably Opal Nations' "The Man Who Entered Pictures." The material in Series 5, Haltos 2 Ornos, includes copies of proposals for the program, course descriptions, reports on the program and students, correspondence, photographs, and photocopies of newspaper articles. In Labor Periodistica, Series 6, typescript and photocopies of essays and newspaper articles by Ehrenberg and others are found, along with correspondence relating to the material. The next series, aptly named Varios Diversos (Series 7), contains photocopied newspaper articles and other material on general topics that interested Ehrenberg such as communal living, hippies, ecology, and UFOs (O.V.N.I.S.). More specific topics, however, are also found here, including four folders of material on Militancy in Art, political controversies involving censorship and corporate sponsorship of art, information on Diego Rivera, Jorge Luis Borges, Neo Dadism, and Nadaism (Colombia). In Series 8, Clases, Asesorias, Conferencias, Jurados Y Subastas, Etc., material from Ehrenberg's guest lecturing at School of the Arts Chicago (SAIC) can be found, along with documentation from his participation in Plan de Actividades Culturales de Apoyo a la Educacion Primaria (PACAEP), an initiative sponsored by the Mexican government in the mid to late 1980s. Information from several other programs are contained here, including material from Ehrenberg's judging activites on behalf of Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), and participation several Festivals de la Raza. Administracion Activo y Pasivo, Series 9, covers Ehrenberg's activities from the early 1990s to 2000, including information for the exhibition of Preterito Imperfecto in several venues, his election to a fellowship in the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte, showings of his work in Australia and Venezuela, and invitation to give a guest lecture at the Royal College of Art. Found in Series 10, Museums, Galleries, Etc., are correspondence, receipts, brochures, photographs and other material regarding facilities where Ehrenberg has shown his work or expressed an interest in doing so. Archive Muerto, Series 11, the last of the Ehrenberg-defined series, deals with projects completed or unfinished from the late 1970s through the 1990s. Material in this series consists of: correspondence, photocopied newspaper and journal articles, gallery brochures, photographs, and sketches. The next six series contain material not originally organized or listed by Ehrenberg. Series 12, Academic and Professional Institutions, Organizations, Groups, Etc., contains correspondence, reports, proposals, photographs, and brochures for his involvement with Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), Instituto Veracruzano de la Cultura (IVEC), and Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). Also found in this series is material relating to Ehrenberg's membership in Consejo Mexicano de Fotografias (CMF), Sociedad Mexicana de Artes Plasticas (SOMART), and other organizations. Social and Political Activism, Series 13, features correspondence, photographs, flyers, and other material regarding Ehrenberg's involvement with the European Committee for the Defence of Mexican Political Prisoners, and copies of legal documents, political flyers, press releases, and some correspondence concerning his run for office as a member of Partido Socialista Unificado de Mexico (PSUM). Ehrenberg's participation in the relief effort and rebuilding of the Tepito barrio is covered in Series 13, and consists of correspondence, photographs, mimeographed flyers, periodicals, photocopied newspaper articles, copies of official reports, lists of buildings and other documents concerning donations, receipts, etc. Material on the formation of Barrio a Barrio and Ehrenberg's Roque Dalton Award also appears here, and consists mostly of photocopied newpaper articles, with some correspondence and type-scripted proposal for the project. Photocopied newspaper articles and columns written by Ehrenberg, circa 1964-1965, dominate Series 14, Early Editorial Work and Publishing Material, but other literary efforts are represented in the series as well. Correspondence, photographs, type-scripted drafts and sketches document his illustration of Michel Tournier's Barbedor O La Sucesion for Martin Casillas Editores, and a mimeographed pamphlet, Libro Accion Libre, describes the founding of Beau Geste Press and Libro Accion Libre. Series 15, Personal Papers, contains limited family correspondence and photographs, personal financial records, and several sketchbooks, undated but described as "Dibujos Juvencito" by Ehrenberg. Many of the photographs in Series 16, Miscellaneous Photographs and Other Material, are credited to the Mexico City Times, with some of the people and art works identified, while others remain anonymous. Other material includes a proposal for a computer game by Timothy Stanton, and photocopies of drawings by Rini Templeton. Series 17, Exhibition Announcements by Other Artists, Galleries, Institutions, or Museums, holds brochures, mailers, and booklets of exhibition announcements, arranged in alphabetical order by artist, gallery or institution.

    Access Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Art, Mexican.