Richard E. Fuller Travel Slides: Art and Architecture of Mexico

Tula, Temple of the Moon, detail of two parts of a gigantic column

Photograph taken by Fuller in November, 1948, showing a boy leaning on a fallen column segment at the Pyamid of the Moon in Tula.

BACKGROUND

Dr. Richard E. Fuller (1897-1976), Director of the Seattle Art Museum from 1933-1973, made an array of personal excursions to Mexico between 1944 and 1948. These were in addition to the research trips he was also carrying out at that time as Chairman of the U.S. Committee for the Study of Parícutin Volcano—an American counterpart to the Comité Mexicano para el Estudio del Volcán de Parícutin, which was formed for the explicit purpose of studying geological phenomena associated with the unexpected emergence of the Parícutin volcano on February 20th, 1943, in Mexico1 (for more information on these committees and their collaborative efforts, see the Richard E. Fuller papers, 1927-1962, held at the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections).

ASPECTS OF THE COLLECTION

Over the course of his personal travels, Fuller took numerous photographs of Mexican architecture and sculpture. He later had these images transferred to glass slides, which he meticulously labeled by hand. Currently these labels constitute the sole known written record which pertains to this specific collection. They offer a wealth of information, including: the month and year each image was taken, its location, an ID number, and a category number which corresponds to what Fuller deemed the predominant subject of the image. Based on the sequential breaks in these identifiers, it seems likely that the collection is incomplete. Of the 150 slides found, the vast majority fall into categories 1 ("Architecture") and 3 ("Sculpture"), with only a small minority assigned to 2 ("Painting"), 1·1 ("General view"), and 6 ("Customs"). The subjects of categories 4 and 5, if they existed, are unknown, as no representative slides have yet been found.  A typed transcript of all 150 labels is available on request.

As a whole, this collection captures images of several historic Toltec sites, detailed interiors and exteriors of many Colonial Period buildings, various monuments, civic structures, and works of art, and other rural and urban scenes of early 20th century Mexico. Principally Fuller appears to have been interested in documenting buildings and sculptures which typified particular architectural features or styles, such as the Mudéjar style2 tiling which he noted in several photographs (e.g. of the Santuario de San José de Gracia [Sanctuary of San José de Gracia] and La Casa de los Azulejos [House of Tiles]). However, the collection is also noteworthy for its occasional capture of striking scenes of contemporary Mexican life, such as a December 1944 photograph of a group of orphans attending a story time, and various street scenes which incidentally capture human activity and signage alongside noteworthy buildings.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection has been divided into series according to the month and year in which each photograph was taken (see right side of the screen). Each individual slide has also been tagged by year, subject, and location, to facilitate alternative browsing by these aspects.

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1 Paricutín. (2019). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://library-eb-com.ezproxy.kcls.org/levels/referencecenter/article/Paricut%C3%ADn/58460

2 Kiracofe, J. B. (2000). Scattering seeds from the garden of Allah: Mudejar art and architecture in the new world. Retrieved from http://interamericaninstitute.org/work_in_progress.htm

Richard E. Fuller Travel Slides: Art and Architecture of Mexico