Potos: SEDEMA-Enrique Abe
The Fountain of the Nymphs is on one of main the traffic roundabouts in Chapultepec Section 2. The fountain is based around the 1964 sculpture by Francisco Zúñiga. It was placed in the same year as the nearby sculpture, also by Zúñiga, the Nuclear Physicists Fountain. It’s about an eight-minute walk more-or-less directly north.
The sculpture, titled Young Women Running, (Muchachas corriendo) corresponds to a number of works the artist had been working on over the course of the previous decade. Perhaps most formally similar, at least in the realm of his public sculpture, the Juventud sculpture was placed on the grounds of the National Polytechnic Institute in the same year.
The present title of the fountain likely belies much of the artist’s intent. Zúñiga is best known for his figures of plainly indigenous American women. Nearly all of them are idealized but not in the way that Romans idealized Greeks, which is the European standard of the idealized human form. The cold, aloof Greek goddess of hood ornaments and indeed, of nearly all Western ornamentation, is replaced, in Zúñiga’s vision, with indigenous, and often maternal figures. It’s not hard to imagine these young women running in rural a Meso- or Central American village with their seated and standing mothers not far off. Alas, their nudity had to be excused through reference to an entirely different tradition, even in 1964.
Alas, the Fountain of the Nymphs may be a misnomer. The sculpture at the center is a wonderful reminder of the strength and endurance of indigenous culture and people.