The Monumento a la Madre, literally the “Monument to the Mother” is one of the most prominent of public monuments in the city. Easily visible from Insurgentes Norte, behind it is the famous Sunday art tianguis at the Jardin del Arte park.
The monument was dedicated in 1949 based on a suggestion made some 25 years earlier in 1925 by then Secretary of Education José Vasconcelos. The monument was built between 1944 and 1949 and features three sculptures by the artist Luis Ortiz Monastery. These are arranged in an art-deco architectural setting designed by José Villagrán García. This is likely Ortiz Monastery’s best known work, although his Fountain to Nezahualcoyotl in Chapultepec is very well regarded. Villagrán is best-remembered as a theorist although his work on the Hospital of Jesus in the Centro Histórico is very well known and efforts are underway today to preserve at least some of his work on the Rastro de Ferreteria in Azcapotzolco.
The three sculptures, a man writing, a woman with an ear of corn, and the large central figure of the mother, bear some resemblance to those on the Monument to the Revolution by Oliverio Martínez. These had been unveiled but some ten years earlier. All show at least some influence of the prominent architect and artist, Juan O’Gorman. The champion of Mexican Functionalism, his later work had by this time begun clearly leaning toward strong indigenous and Mexican-specific themes.
The Monumento a la Madre was badly damaged in the 2017 earthquake, which collapsed the entire central sculpture and pillar. It was carefully reconstructed and reopened only in 2018.
Many Sunday visitors to the art tianguis in the Jardin del Arte park will stop to appreciate the monument, too.
The first president after the Mexican Revolution, it's a fascinating trip into a life not quite free from conflict, as history well knows.
Not so much a traffic roundabout today, it's still a prominent place on Mexico City's main street.
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