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In his early life Best made some detailed illustrations of prehispanic excavation findings in the Valley of Mexico for Franz Boas. He completed his art studies in Europe where he met Diego Rivera for his first time, by whom he was portrayed in 1913. This oil painted portrait belongs to the current collection of the Museo Nacional de Arte

In 1914 he removed to Mexico where he taught at the upcoming plein-air painting schools. He confronted Mexican folk art and added modern and rational stylistic elements to his paintings, which often included figurative caricatures. In mid-1919, he continued his studies in the United States, returning to Mexico in 1920. At the Secretariat of Public Education he was director of the department for art education between 1921 and 1924. His drawing methods found their way into art education at Mexican schools in 1922 and over 200,000 pupils were influenced by his drawing manual "Manuales y Tratados: Metodo de dibujo: tradition, resurgimiento y evolucion del arte mexicano" in 1923. Also he wrote some books of art history in this years. In 1931, he was commissioned by the Mexican government to assist Sergei Eisenstein at filming "¡Qué viva México!" whereby he got influence on Russian cinematics. In 1932, Best-Maugard became a member of the Consejo de Bellas Artes (Council of Fine Arts) as well the Consejo de Asuntos Culturales (Council of Cultural Affairs) in the Distrito Federal de México. Also he was a member of the Society of Geography and Statistics (Sociedad de Geografía y Estadística) and of the Mexican Union of Film Directors. In 1933 he was representative of the department of fine arts of the council for primary education. From 1932 to 1935 he worked in the marketing branch of the National Lottery for Public Benefits. In 1933, he directed the filming of "Humanidad" (Humanity) and in 1937, "La Mancha de Sangre" (The blood spot) based on his own script, which was first performed in June 1943.

Best-Maugard was a good friend of Rosa and Miguel Covarrubias and had several contacts to artist and poetry groups in the United States

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