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Mexican Muralism Collage

Mexican Muralism

Started: 1920

Ended: 1950

Mexican Muralism Timeline

Quotes

"I had tried to achieve a harmony in my painting with the architecture of the building."
Diego Rivera
"Do you wish to see with your own eyes the hidden springs of the social revolution? Look at the frescoes of Rivera. Do you wish to know what revolutionary art is like? Look at the frescoes of Rivera."
Leon Trotsky
"Art is a weapon that penetrates the eyes, the ears, the deepest and subtlest human feelings."
David Alfaro Siqueiros
"I set to work consciously to over-power the ornamentation of the room."
Diego Rivera
"As an artist I have always tried to be faithful to my vision of life, and I have frequently been in conflict with those who wanted me to paint not what I saw but what they wished me to see."
Diego Rivera
"Errors and exaggerations do not matter. What matters is boldness in thinking with a strong-pitched voice, in speaking out about things as one feels them in the moment of speaking; in having the temerity to proclaim what one believes to be true without fear of the consequences."
José Clemente Orozco
"In every painting, as in any other work of art, there is always an IDEA, never a STORY."
José Clemente Orozco
"I mentioned a desire which I had to paint a series of murals about the industries of the United States, a series that would constitute a new kind of plastic poem, depicting in color and form the story of each industry and its division of labor."
Diego Rivera
"Marx made theory... Lenin applied it with his sense of large-scale social organization... And Henry Ford made the work of the socialist state possible."
Diego Rivera
"As I rode back to Detroit, a vision of Henry Ford's industrial empire kept passing before my eyes. In my ears, I heard the wonderful symphony, which came from his factories where metals were shaped into tools for men's service. It was a new music, waiting for the composer with genius enough to give it communicable form."
Diego Rivera

KEY ARTISTS

Gerardo MurilloGerardo Murillo
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Diego RiveraDiego Rivera
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Jose Clemente OrozcoJose Clemente Orozco
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David Alfaro SiqueirosDavid Alfaro Siqueiros
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"The artist must paint as he would speak. I don't want people to speculate what I mean, I want them to understand."

David Alfaro Siqueiros Signature

Synopsis

Originally spawned by the need to promote pride and nationalism in a country rebuilding after revolution, the Mexican Muralist movement brought mural painting back from its staid retirement in the history of ancient peoples as a respected artistic form with a strong social potential. With it, a rich visual language emerged in public spaces as a means to make art accessible to all. It provided an opportunity to educate and inform the common man with its messages of cultural identity, politics, oppression, resistance, progress, and other important issues of the time. It was a fiercely independent movement; many of its early artists rejecting external influences and used this new, vast, and freeing medium to achieve personal expression. This movement proved that art could be a valid communication tool outside the confines of the gallery and museum.

Key Ideas

Murals were originally used as a way to spread visual messages to an illiterate population, which opened up new possibilities in the inclusion and cohesiveness of community within a people. Oftentimes these messages promoted pride in cultural identity, rich historical traditions, or political propaganda. The potential in murals bypassed more traditional forms of advertising and pamphlet printing.
Although the early Mexican murals were inclined toward the favoring of socialism - as did its most important artists including Diego Rivera - they would evolve over time to also favorably portray the industrial revolution, the progress of technology, and capitalism. The mural's role as key gauge of current events cannot be denied.
Mexican Muralism was a heavy predecessor of today's public art. It liberated art from the art market and its elitism, making it free and available to all people. The opportunities this presented for artists was vast and unfettered. They could now find exposure on a grander stage.
Many mural artists commissioned by government or other authoritative bodies would come to reject the direction being handed down to them, instead creating work that incorporated some of their own ideas and values. Sometimes this proved highly controversial and sometimes they were allowed to get away with it. This impetus can be seen as an early example of what would later influence the graffiti and street art scenes. It is also interesting to note that in today's social media (Facebook) sphere, the sharing of our opinions - both visual and textual - are called "posting" on our "walls."

Beginnings

Mexican Muralism Image

Mexico's Traditional Murals

Mexico has a long tradition of mural painting. This legacy dates back to the pre-Hispanic period with an ancient civilization called the Olmecs, which produced some of the earliest known painted art in South America. This tradition continued under Hispanic rule as murals were used to introduce the Mexican people to the stories and ideas of Catholicism. From this point on, mural painting became one of the most dominant forms of art in Mexican culture, a countrywide tool for means of expression. This precedence provided a readymade platform for the politically motivated and fostered the birth of the Mexican Muralism movement.

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Mexican Muralism Overview Continues

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Anna Souter

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kimberly Nichols

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Anna Souter
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kimberly Nichols
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