Anita Brenner

Anita Brenner ( born August 13, 1905 in Aguascalientes, Mexico, † December 1, 1974 in Aguascalientes, Mexico) was a Mexican and US- American anthropologist, art critic, historian, journalist, children's book author and translator.


Anita Brenner (actually Hanna Brenner ) was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico, to Latvian immigrants who fled in 1916 after the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution with her parents to the United States to San Antonio. At 18, she broke off her studies and returned back to Mexico to study the local culture. In 1929, she published Idols Behind Altars, one of the first and until now one of the most important critical studies on the origins of Mexican art. After four years in Mexico, she moved to New York to do a doctorate at Columbia University in anthropology. After 17 years in New York, she finally finally returned to Mexico, where she died in a car accident in 1974.

Mexico City in the 1920s

Through their studies Anita Brenner came in contact with many avant-garde artists of Mexico 20s. So they instructed Edward Weston and Tina Modotti with the photographs for her book Idols Behind Altars. She was also a model for a famous of Weston's nudes. Your circle of friends included Jean Charlot continue, Rufino Tamayo, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. She also worked as a journalist, for example, also for the New York Times.

Mexico City in the 1950s and 60s

During this time, Anita Brenner founded the magazine Mexico / This Month, she edited herself. She also wrote numerous children's books: I Want to Fly, The Boy Who Could Do Anything, Dumb Juan and the Bandits, A Hero by Mistake and The Timid Ghost, all of which were illustrated by Jean Charlot. As you should be awarded the highest Mexican Order of Merit for foreigners, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, they refused on the grounds that she was not a foreigner.


  • Idols Behind Altars: Modern Mexican Art and Its Cultural Roots. Payson & Clarke, New York, 1929 edition. Dover Publications, Mineola 2002, ISBN 978-0-486-42303-6.
  • Your Mexican Holiday. G. P. Putnam, New York 1931.
  • The Influence of Technique on the Decorative Style in the Domestic Pottery of Culhuacan. Columbia University Press, New York 1934.
  • The Wind Swept did Mexico: The History of the Mexican Revolution 1910-1942. Harper, New York 1943 edition. University of Texas Press, Austin 1984, ISBN 978-0-292-79024-7.