Mexican muralism was promoting mural painting. It was during the early 1920s, and it was through social and political messages. It was in an attempt to reunify the Mexico after the Mexican Revolution. The Mexican muralism was by Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. They were the biggest and most known painters in Mexico.
From the inception of Mexican muralism, 1920-1970 saw the painting of very many murals that had nationalistic messages in them. Drawings of social and political messages on public buildings also took root. The Mexican muralism began a tradition that is still present to date.
It has had an effect on other parts of Americas, including the US. It was the inspiration for the Chicano art movement. The importance and influence of this tradition final felt all over Mexico and other parts of the world.
The honored tradition of painting murals in Mexico began with the Olmec civilization. Mural paintings were mostly evangelical and insisted on Christian teachings during the pre-Hispanic and colonial period. In the 19th century, the social and political mural painting began to take root.
Juan Cordero was the first painter to use a philosophical theme in his wall painting in the mid-19th century. Most of his works had religious affiliations like the cupola of the Santa Teresa Church; he did a secular art on request from Gabino Barreda.
The 19th century became the Porfirio Diaz regime. The government initialized cultural development in the country by funding the study of artists abroad. The intention was good and pure, but there was no promotion of the Mexican culture. That is when Gerald Murillo stepped in and brought about the idea that the paintings should reflect the Mexican way of life for cultural promotion and preservation.
Being the first modern muralist to get recognition, he was able to get the government to change their line of art promotion and allow muralists to paint on public building walls. He also put together an exhibition of native Mexicans where they could showcase their art.
The first mural by Gerald was female nudes that had Atl-color, a color he came up with from his famous nickname Dr. Atl. Since the government’s art promotion program had given emphasis to European art, Jose Guadalupe Posada through his graphic work made cartoons to mock the European style using social and political themes.
The Mexican revolution came about in rejection of the Porfirio Diaz. A group of intellects that gave emphasis to populist philosophy came together with Gerald and Posada; they had a shared vision that gave way to the next generation of painters to adopt the social and political themes. Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros followed the populist path.
The ideas and visions of the group became famous and influential that the Diaz regime came to an end. The defeat only took a year, but decades late, the struggle for power was still evident. There was a constant change in governments because of the extreme number of assassinations.
One party leadership under Alvaro Obregon in the 1920s saw to the end of the era, and his leadership began the Partido Revolucionario Institucional regime. Gerald was able to support the works of Diego Rivera, Alfaro and Clemente by supporting the Carranza faction. They later became the founders of the muralism movement in Mexico.
After the revolution, a time when most Mexicans were illiterate, Jose Vasconcelos became the head of education, and he came up with an idea for the government to back the mural program. He wanted the murals to be for social and cultural promotion. The government got the best artists to paint murals.
The muralists had their differences, but they all had one believe, that art was a great way of educating the public. The first project that the government took part in was on three levels at the Jesuit institution. The painting was on the inside of the institution.
The first project opened up the way for more murals on the interior walls of several buildings. From 1920 to 1950, the painting movement was at its peak strongest point and took part in the transformation of the people to literacy. During the time, the murals were a way of getting art to be seen by everyone not just the rich and also a way of ensuring that artists had freedom to express themselves through art.
The movement took place in steps that are, the heroic phase that was in the 1920s, this stage gave way to the statist phase that began in 1930. Leonard Folgarait gave a description that 1940 was the era of rebirth for the mural movement. The big three, Diego, Clemente and Alfaro spent the post-revolution era developing their work. The government took a step back from mural painting, and the mural movement became private. The sponsors for the murals now became banks, theaters, and hotels.
Los tres grande
The big three is the name that best describes the most influential and remarkable muralists from the 20th century. They defined the muralist movement and proved that art could be the highest form of human expression. Each of them was different in their style and way of expression, they all made a very significant impact.
Diego’s style was more utopian and idealist, Clemente had critical and pessimistic works while Alfaro had the most original paintings of all. Their experiences affected their styles, and that’s why they each had their unique style. Rivera mostly drew from European modernism and traditional art styles. He had Mexican themes that he got from typical real life scenarios.
Clemente in his early works had a European style but then later evolved to angry and depictions of human suffering and fear of technology. He is the one artist who did not praise the Mexican revolution. He had been in the middle of the revolution and decided to share the horrors of the revolution through his art.
Siqueiros joined the army when he was eighteen and was the youngest of the three. He was also the most radical one since he experienced the revolution from the front lines. He used modern enamel in his work. He was fascinated with technology. He did most of his work in South America because his radicalism had seen him banned from Mexico and the US.