Mexican Muralist Movement: Art for the People, Telling the People’s Story

Once the armed struggle ended, it was necessary to rebuild a shattered nation. Newly elected president, General Álvaro Obregón named José Vasconcelos secretary of public education. Vasconcelos had a serious challenge: How to succeed in educating the people of a country in which the overwhelming majority were illiterate?
Public art was to be part of the answer, and a solution to start educating the nation was attempted through the Muralist Painting movement. Among the most important muralists are “Los tres grandes” (“The Three Great Ones”): Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The Muralists viewed art not primarily as an aesthetic or expressive product but as an educative one, an art of the people.
The Muralist Movement lasted approximately half a century, from the early 1920s to the 1970s. Through it, both the art and culture of Mexico were put at the service of society and the ideals of the Mexican Revolution. Muralist painters, many of whom were no strangers to political activism, used the walls of public buildings, palaces, universities, and libraries to tell both the story of the revolution and of the daily life of the people.
The mural paintings defined the nation’s identity and recognized Mexico’s indigenous ancestry. They documented the suffering of the indigenous at the hands of the Spanish conquistadores, while also recognizing Mexico’s shared history and culture. The Mexican muralists influenced artists throughout the Americas, and continue to influence artists today.

One comment

  1. In the 1970s and until today, the Muralists are very active in the U.S. And now they are referred to as the public taggers. With their colored marking pens, and with paint brushes they make murals on public and private buildings and almost anywhere there is a surface that can be reached … on highway overpasses , fences, sidewalks … and worse of all, on your residence.

    Many of the public school buildings have been approved for large murals to identify the students that attend a particular school. I personally do not like them on public buildings, as I do not like the large billboard signs , nor painting the sides of the streetcars and buses for advertizng income into the city treasury..

    But worse of all, the city has passed a city ordinance that these tags (murals) must be removed from residential houses within 30 or less days, or the resident will be fined, as the city will remove it for them. Perhaps the ending of the Muralist Painting movement in Mexico was a good thing, and it transferred to the U.S. with the immigration movement into the U.S. by the Mexican people who , what , liked the mural painting movement?

Comments are closed.