Rivera, Orozco & David Alfaro Siqueiros, the Three Great Ones of Muralism

Muralism & David Alfaro Siqueiros

Segment of "The Land, like the Water and the Industry, Belong to Us" Mural (1959) by David Alfaro Siqueiros. Muralism Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Segment of "The Land, like the Water and the Industry, Belong to Us" Mural (1959) by David Alfaro Siqueiros. Muralism Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.

Mexican Muralism, Social Realism in the XX Century

The Mexican art scene during the early twentieth century produced one of the strongest cultural movements of Mexican history. This artistic forefront derived from an ideology generate during the Mexican Revolution of 1910, which had as emblem the indigenous' face, and was inspired by indigenous traditions, and all matters referring to social struggles.

The political-themed cultural movement to which I am referring was, and is known as Muralism, and it engendered an alternative path in which artists developed new and cutting edge works of art in the field of social realism.

Inspired by the quest for identity in all areas of society, Mexican Muralism was born and it now stands as the first internationally recognized art movement started in Mexico by the famous painters Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco.

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Orozco's Beauty & the Beast

Beauty and the Beast (c1940) by José Clemente Orozco. Muralists Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Beauty and the Beast (c1940) by José Clemente Orozco. Muralists Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.

Muralism & Orozco

"The highest, the most logical, the purest and strongest form of painting is the mural, it is the most selfless form of art, because it cannot be a matter of private gain, nor can it be hidden for the benefit of a privileged few. It is for the people. It is for everyone."

- Jose Clemente Orozco

Muralism's Inspiration

Indigenous Traditions & Social Struggles Present in Muralism

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Miracle of Tepeyac (c1947) by Jorge González Camarena. Muralist's Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.Cuauhtémoc [Eagle Knight] by Jesús de la Helguera. Muralist's Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.Rosana (c1944) by José Clemente Orozco, founder of Muralism. Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.Father of the First Victim of the Cananea Strike (1961) by David Alfaro Siqueiros, founder of Muralism. Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Miracle of Tepeyac (c1947) by Jorge González Camarena. Muralist's Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Miracle of Tepeyac (c1947) by Jorge González Camarena. Muralist's Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Cuauhtémoc [Eagle Knight] by Jesús de la Helguera. Muralist's Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Cuauhtémoc [Eagle Knight] by Jesús de la Helguera. Muralist's Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Rosana (c1944) by José Clemente Orozco, founder of Muralism. Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Rosana (c1944) by José Clemente Orozco, founder of Muralism. Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Father of the First Victim of the Cananea Strike (1961) by David Alfaro Siqueiros, founder of Muralism. Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Father of the First Victim of the Cananea Strike (1961) by David Alfaro Siqueiros, founder of Muralism. Art Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.

Mexican Muralism of the 1930s

By the 1920s, Mexico had reached the last phase of its revolutionary period. The social and economic issues that fueled the conflict over the course of several years, saw their crystallization through the guidance of Álvaro Obregón's government.

Land distribution, the creation of unions, important labor and wage reforms, and especially the ideals of the 1917 Constitution, integrated the proletariat and the peasant to the new modernist project the county undertook.

David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rivera and Orozco worked as Muralist for Alvaro Obregon's Secretary of Education, José Vasconcelos, who wanted to educate the masses through public art, and hired these and lots of other artists and writers to create a modern Mexican culture.

Vasconcelos supported Muralism by commissioning murals for several prominent buildings in Mexico City (The National Palace, The Palace of Fine Arts, National Museum of History, Ministry of Public Education, National Autonomous University of Mexico U.N.A.M., and many other public and governmental buildings, museums, schools, theaters and hospitals).

In the intellectual and cultural realm, the masses were used as protagonists to exalt the revolutionary achievements just attained. David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rivera, Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, and Pablo O'Higgins, among many others, left faithful witness of the national reality, through the great nationalistic themes of their mural paintings.

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Muralism in the USA

Each of the leading Mexican muralists - Rivera, Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros- worked in the United States of America at some point in their artistic careers; their influence spread through the country and served as a primary inspiration for the Works Progress Administration's art movement -during the 1940s in America-, a movement that sought to employ artists through government sponsorship.

In fact, Rivera was commissioned by big private US investors such as Ford Motor Company and Rockefeller. During his time in the States, several Works Progress Administration (WPA) muralists studied with him, learning the techniques for modern fresco painting.

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Some of Rivera's & Orozco's Famous Murals in the USA

Artist
Work
Location
Diego Rivera
Detroit Industry, South Wall (1932-1933)
Detroit Institute of Arts
Diego Rivera
Detroit Industry, North Wall (1932-1933)
Detroit Institute of Arts
Orozco
The Epic of American Civilization (1932-1934)
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

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Muralism & Diego Rivera

Segments of "Juchitán River or Bath in the River or Bath of Tehuantepec" Mural (c1956) by Diego Rivera (Venetian mosaic, both sides). Muralism Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Segments of "Juchitán River or Bath in the River or Bath of Tehuantepec" Mural (c1956) by Diego Rivera (Venetian mosaic, both sides). Muralism Collection of the richest man in the world: Carlos Slim Helu. Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.

Carlos Slim Helu's Museo Soumaya

Carlos Slim Heluis a Mexican businessman and philanthropist who has become the richest man in the world according to Forbes' list of wealthiest billionaires in 2011. He has recently founded a Museum, called Museo Soumaya (Plaza Carso), where he exhibits his impressive art collection that goes from Old Masters' pieces, to Impressionism and Modern Art in Europe and Mexico.

The Museo Soumaya exhibits more than 64 thousand works of art –including sculptures, music instruments and paintings.

Among the outstanding pieces of the museum are the Muralist's art works of the world renowned Rivera, Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros that are shown in this article. Thanks to the Carlos Slim Foundation they are now available to all the inhabitants and visitors of Mexico City who wish to have access to them.

If you would like to read more about the Museo Soumaya and its Art Collections, you might be interested in reading the following articles:

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Comments on "Rivera, Orozco & David Alfaro Siqueiros's Muralism" 8 comments

irka winniczuk 4 years ago

I like the way you explain things. Nice and clear. You took very nice pictures of the details in the murals. They become more alive this way.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico Author

Hi Irka, nice to have you back in one of my Hubs! Thanks for your compliments and feedback. I had to take fragmented details of the murals because they are very big and hard to capture in their entirety with a regular camera. This is an homage to the wonderful Mexican painters Rivera, Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros that I presume are not very well known outside of Mexico even when they are top figures in the world of art. The Museo Soumaya does a good work in exhibiting some of their beautiful art works.

Thanks again for your comments, they are very much appreciated.


Felina Margetty profile image

Felina Margetty 4 years ago from New York, New York

Yes these are great mural's. I am a fan. Many thanks for sharing. I have a collection of NY graffiti my mother started in the sixties and I have continued photographing it whenever possible. Mural's and Graffiti play a big part in our cultural heritage.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico Author

Felina, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I agree with you in that Muralism and Graffiti are forms of art that have a great cultural impact; in years to come, graffiti might tell a very interesting story about a historical moment in NY such as the one Mexican Muralism tells about the last century in Mexico.


IslandBites profile image

IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

Nice hub! I learned about muralism in an art history class. Vote up!


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 3 years ago from Mexico Author

IslandBites, I am glad you liked this hub about Mexican Muralism, I find painting murals quite an accomplishment and don´t know how they do not to loose perspective working with such great scales! Thanks for dropping by and for your input.


erorantes profile image

erorantes 2 years ago from Miami Florida

I like your art. The pictures on the murals looks great. I like Diego Rivera's style. My favorite is Frieda Calo . I used to see the picture all over San Francisco California. remains me of the past latin culture. Your hub is creative. Your hub is excellent. The pictures tells you how people live in the county side of the city life. I like your writing. Thank you miss claudiatello for sharing your talent.


Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 2 years ago from Mexico Author

erorantes, thank you very much for all your feedback and kind input, I am glad you found this hub interesting, thought Mexican Muralism as an interesting subject to talk about and luckily we coincide.

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