Mexican Muralism: A 1930s Art Movement

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Mexican muralism is a Mexican art movement that took place primarily in the 1930s. The movement stands out historically because of its political undertones, the majority of which are of a Marxist nature, or related to a social and political situation of post-revolutionary Mexico.

The time between the two world wars was a period when many artists were looking to indigenous traditions and subject matter for inspiration. A number of like-minded artists in Mexico turned to their own history and artistic heritage, namely Mexico's pre-Columbian cultures and indigenous peoples, contributing to a renaissance of Mexican painting. The 1920s were the height of the muralist effort in Mexico, a movement which marked the high point of Mexican influence throughout Latin America and the United States.

Even though Mexican muralism is considered an artistic movement, it can also be considered a social and political movement. This style was thought of as a teaching method and it was expressed in public places where all people could have access to it regardless of race and social class. Muralists worked over a concrete surface or on the façade of a building. The themes involved events from the political climate of the time and as a reaction to the Mexican Revolution.

Beginning in the 1920s and continuing to mid century, artists were commissioned by the local government to cover the walls of official institutions such as Mexico’s schools, ministerial buildings, churches and museums. Murals from this movement can be found on the majority of the public buildings in Mexico City and throughout other cities in Mexico, such as Guadalajara, that played important roles in Mexico’s history.

The movement's influence subsequently spread throughout North America, acting as the primary inspiration for the Works Progress Administration's art movement of 1940s America, which sought to employ artists through government patronage. Leading artist Diego Rivera in fact was commissioned by...
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