The Art of Mexican Modernist

 A N T O N I O    P I N E D A

Exhibition at the Fowler Museum UCLA

Through March 15, 2009


The Exhibition, the Panel Discussion, the Reception, and Catalogue,
September 20, 2008.




Review by

Sheila Pamfiloff



 Antonio Pineda and Model,
Courtesy of Fowler Museum at UCLA

Tucked in the hills, just south of Mexico City, is a pristine Spanish Colonial style town; Taxco. There is a charm to this town, with white stucco buildings, red tile roofs, and narrow cobblestone streets that lace and wind up the side of a mountain. A towering cathedral, Santa Prisca, the historic central town square or zocolo, and busy trades people add a bustling ambiance. Taxco is a Mexican National Treasure, given this title for its unique contributions in Silver Art to the fabric of Mexican culture.  This was brought about by the legacy of its citizens, artists, intellectuals, and international pilgrims, who were attracted to the Post Revolutionary creative climate and silver industry in the, then, rural Mexican community.


Taxco is a tourist destination for silver enthusiasts, but it is its Golden Age of Silver that is celebrated by historians, collectors, and jewelry aficionados, whose passion for this distinctive art, chronicled, excavated, collected, and helped bring to light the silver story housed in this small town. The heroes of this story are well known to its many fans; Davis, Spratling, Aguilar, Valentin, Castillo, Antonio, Margot, Brilanti, Salvador, Ledesma, and Sigi to name only a few; each added their unique contribution.


This exhibition is honoring one of the foremost Taxqueños, whose work encompasses decades of jewelry and decorative metalwork design and crafting, and who is designated a living treasure, Antonio Pineda.


As you enter the exhibition, you walk into almost sheer blackness, as if you were in a theater and the lights had dimmed with soft spotlighting of a famous Soprano or Violinist on a stage.  Each object is delicately lighted, with enough space between the pieces to allow appreciation of the beauty and craftsmanship of each work. The first pieces you encounter are fine examples of Davis, Spratling, Aguilar, Valentin, Los Castillo, Chato Castillo, Margot, and Sigi, leading into the greater portion of the exhibition, Sr. Antonio’s collection. The collection is vast and. encompasses the breadth of his work. It is only when viewing a large collection, such as this, one can have a deep appreciation for the art, consistency in excellence, innovations, and evolution in crafted objects issued from his Tallers.


 Antonio Pineda Necklace, Courtesy of Fowler Museum at UCLA

His earliest works nod towards his apprenticeships with William Spratling and Valentin Vidaurreta in technique, nature subjects, and traditional early Mexican silver designs. Then, there is an abrupt shift in artistic sensibility. The work becomes an integration of modernist tenets melded with Mexican inspiration and craftsmanship. His 1950s jewelry discards unnecessary embellishments, gaining volume and dimension using geometric shapes and flowing linear qualities to build the designs. Stones, often semi-precious, are cut, melded to the form, and set in surprisingly clever ways.  Mechanisms are camouflaged by design elements, and, there is an ever-present mechanical component in the jewelry with each segment meshing together with precision.  The tableware mirrors the jewelry in design evolution with the earlier pieces displaying traditional motifs and techniques, then the later works launch into designs that are sleek, sophisticated, and could stand alone as small sculptures.     


The jewelry and metalwork well represents the ingenuity and modernist approaches issued from Sr. Antonio’s shop, mostly from the heyday of Taxco, with many rare examples of his work. Although, there are some familiar pieces from their display in books and articles, when viewed in person the collection is stunning and the boldness of the individual works is breathtaking.




Antonio Pineda Necklace
Courtesy of Fowler Museum at UCLA




 Antonio Pineda Bracelet
 Courtesy of Fowler Museum at UCLA


 Antonio Pineda Set, Courtesy of Fowler Museum at UCLA





Antonio Pineda Necklace, Courtesy of Fowler Museum at UCLA
Accompanying the exhibition is an informative video with interviews from folks still living and producing in Taxco who recount some of the stories and Sr. Antonio’s contributions to Taxco’s silver legacy.

P A N E L   D I S C U S S I O N






Antonio Pineda, Panel Discussion


Antonio Pineda, Bruno Pineda, and Javier Ruiz came on September 20th, 2008, for a panel discussion. The packed audience was filled with family, friends, patrons, collectors, and folks who frequented Taxco during the height of the Taxco taller era. The Mayor of Taxco, Profra. María de los Angeles Lagunas Vera and other dignitaries were present to help celebrate this occasion. Sr. Antonio, although very frail, was lively and eager to share his story. Reading from a script in Spanish, with English subtitles displayed on a screen in the background, he told his story of his early days and the growth of his art and of his taller.


He was particularly proud of his own design sense, breaking away from traditional Mexican motifs and the beginning of his decisive journey into developing his own unique designs and innovative constructions. Discussing his design process, he explained the development of the designs on paper, which he then gave to his brother Bruno, where they were developed and executed by the appropriate silversmiths and maestros. He credited many maestros, and silversmiths, who worked with him over his long career, with bringing his designs to realization. At one point they were developing ten new designs a week and employed 160 people working feverishly to fill the demand. He further explained that he believed that his inspiration comes from a mystical magical realm. 




Bruno Pineda and Antonio's daughter Ms. Pineda-Hall





Javier Ruiz, Taxco Historian

He felt his taller was one of the most successful Tallers in Taxco due, in part, to early recognition for his contributions in the International Exhibition in San Francisco at the Palace Legion of Honor, in 1944, where Gump’s purchased the entire collection. His work grew in international acclaim through international shows, awards, representation in upscale department stores and galleries. His jewelry and sculptures were unique and appealed to connoisseurs, Hollywood jetsetters, dignitaries, and artists who flocked to this small town for shopping and adventure seeking.

 He reminisced about the early days of Taxco and how this little remote mountain town grew to international stature due the innovations, creative atmosphere, and the many talents who gave rise to the taller system and Mexican Modernism.


Gobi Stromberg, author of the catalogue and co-curator, and Betsy Quick, Fowler Museum’s Director of Education were there to interpret as Bruno Pineda, Sr. Antonio’s brother and chief advisor, Javier Ruiz, historian and town chronicler, clarified and enhanced the story by adding refined information on the operation of the taller and recounted delightful stories of visiting celebrities who added color and flavor to this legendary silver town. 


R E C E P T I O N 

When the discussion was completed, there was a reception held in the courtyard where visiting Taxqueños, family members, museum staff, and appreciative collectors mingled wearing incredible Antonio jewelry. The Fowler Museum staff gave thanks to those responsible for bringing us this exquisite Exhibition, most importantly, Cindy Tietze and Stuart Hodosh, whose thirty years of collecting and documenting the Taxco school, made this exhibition


Antonio Pineda and family with the Exhibit's contributors, Cindy Tietze and Stuart Hodosh






Antonio Pineda Jr.








.Collector Jill Kitnick and Exhibition Contributor Cindy Tietze




Collectors Sheila Pamfiloff, Stella and Fred Krieger




The Mayor of Taxco gave an open invitation to attend the upcoming Silver Fair in Taxco, held in November, promising that this would be one of the best Fairs in recent history.





The Mayor of Taxco, Profra. María de los Angeles Lagunas Vera


The accompanying Catalogue, Silver Seduction The Art of Mexican Modernist Antonio Pineda, by Gobi Stromberg, with an Essay by Ana Elena Mallet, masterfully done, is not just a catalogue, but a textbook for any Mexican silver enthusiast. The text documents, in great detail, the colonial years, the rise of the silver industry in Taxco, and Antonio Pineda’s contributions to the Golden Age in Taxco, with photographs of the 200 pieces of sumptuous jewelry and silver works on exhibition from the collection of Cindy Tietze and Stuart Hodosh.


Taxco’s silver legacy is an important event in the history of modernist silver, and Antonio Pineda is an integral part of this history. This exhibition is a rare opportunity to view an extensive body of work, enabling us to appreciate the scope and originality of silver work produced by the Antonio Pineda Taller.  It further permits a deeper understanding of the ferment of talent that gave rise to Golden Age of Silver in Taxco. 

The Fowler Museum’s presentation is excellent and enhances the patron’s experience in this once in a lifetime opportunity.  Should a visit not be possible, then the accompanying catalogue will be a valued alternative.


For further information regarding exhibition schedule go to:

For further information regarding the catalogue go to or call:

Fowler Museum Store 310-206-7004.


Review by Sheila Pamfilloff
Web design by Marbeth Schon

Copyright © 2008 MODERN SILVER magazine
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