José Luis Cuevas Museum – Mexico City, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

José Luis Cuevas Museum

Its most enigmatic sculpture is a giantess with a ghostly face on her knee.  


Inaugurated in 1992 inside the old Convent of Santa Inés, the José Luis Cuevas Museum houses the collection of controversial artist José Luis Cuevas. Its most notable item on display is his bizarre sculpture of a giantess whose knee has a rather ghostly appearance.

Cuevas was the best-known face of what in Mexico was called the “Breakaway Generation,” an era in the 1950s when some artists decided to leave behind the revolutionary muralist nationalism of the Mexican School of Art.

Cuevas created the 26-foot-tall “La Giganta” in 1985, the same year it was decided to open a museum in his honor. According to the lore, when he was working on the bronze artwork, a face-shaped wrinkle appeared in the giantess’s knee. Though smelters offered to fix the uncanny joint, Cuevas purportedly refused their assistance, as he claimed the face belonged to a ghost who haunted the former convent.

The identity of the woman Cuevas based the giantess on was never revealed. On the day of the sculpture’s inauguration, three women demanded to be recognized as the model. However, the actual model purportedly remained silent, admiring the sculpture without revealing her role in its creation.

Know Before You Go

Next to the enigmatic giantess, the museum houses a temporary exhibition hall and a permanent collection. In addition to the works of Cuevas, works by other relevant members of his era are also exhibited. Keep an eye out for the remnants of the convent's original paintings that still linger on the walls.

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July 17, 2019

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