- Arts and Design
Rivera, Orozco & David Alfaro Siqueiros, the Three Great Ones of Muralism
Muralism & David Alfaro Siqueiros
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.
Orozco's Beauty & the Beast
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
Indigenous Traditions & Social Struggles Present in MuralismClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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.
Some of Rivera's & Orozco's Famous Murals in the USA
Detroit Industry, South Wall (1932-1933)
Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit Industry, North Wall (1932-1933)
Detroit Institute of Arts
The Epic of American Civilization (1932-1934)
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
Muralism & Diego Rivera
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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