This article articulates the significance and multiplicity of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and its legacies and sets the stage for this special issue on Art and Revolution in Mexico. In particular, a line is drawn between scholars who examine and contribute to the comprehension of the diverse nature of the war and its legacies and revisionists and neo-revisionists who have a more singular approach to the rebellion and its narrative. An interrogation of problematic frameworks that have been applied to Mexican history and art history includes: the Caudillo (or great man) based conception of history, the Corporativist model of state patronage, and a structuralist/post-modernist model. As part of his critique the author discerns major structural and institutional changes that occurred between 1910 and 1940 that were unique to Mexico, including the Constitution of 1917, separation of Church and State, a national literacy campaign, and agrarian land reform.
Using a post-revisionist framework, this article considers the engagement of unions and leftist artists in the two decades after the Mexican Revolution by exploring the organizational attempts of both in relation to artistic representations of the working class. The divergent visions of radical and reformist workers of the 1920s are explored respectively by contrasting the class-based and internationalist wood block prints of David Alfaro Siqueiros and Xavier Guerrero in the proto-communist journal El Machete with the nationalist, art nouveau images in the Revista CROM, published by the dominant, officialist labour confederation. These distinct traditions converged in the 1930s, under the Communist Party concept of the ‘Popular Front’ that helped unify artists and workers behind the progressive nationalist project of President Lázaro Cardenas, a pattern exemplified by the Mexican Electricians Union (Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas, SME), the Confederation of Mexican Workers (Confederación de Trabajadores de México, CTM) and the images of workers in the Revista Lux and by artists such as Santos Balmori of the League of Revolutionary Artists and Writers (Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios, LEAR).
This article examines the development of Mexican art after the Mexican Revolution. This text identifies and investigates historical figures, vanguard art movements and artists who have contributed to the development of Mexican art in general and Mexican Muralism in particular. By considering how the Mexican civil war enabled the convergence of interests of both the state and artists and examining developments in vanguard Mexican art of the twentieth century, the author invites rethinking about whether mural painting was or was not official or state art.
In using key texts of Marx and Engels against all dogmatic schools of Marxism, Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez accomplished a major theoretical shift by revalidating ‘modern art’ from within the Marxist tradition, so that ‘socialist pluralism’, and not any single doctrine of ‘social realism’, seemed most consistent with the vantage point of Marx. Sánchez Vázquez wrote significant art criticism about the murals of Diego Rivera in which he deftly applied his concept of non-normative Marxism. Remaining focused on Rivera, in this article Sánchez Vázquez concentrates on the characteristics and deliberates the roles of political art. The author examines how and why Rivera's artwork is political in nature and cites a diverse range of evidence to make his point. Sánchez Vázquez also evaluates the aesthetic quality of Rivera's work and makes connections between the Mexican artist and Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya, Eugène Delacroix and Honoré Daumier.
Mexican culture from the 1920s to the 1940s was strongly influenced by the work of artists with a common aesthetic proposal embracing socialism, public art and social content in parallel with the creation of innovative languages of which nationalism formed an essential part. These artists include certain painters, members of the muralist movement and, in the area of photography, artists such as Tina Modotti. This article focuses on some of the points of contact between the common language of muralists' artistic expression and the images created by Modotti. Similarly, attention is given to concrete examples from the Tina Modotti photographic collection held by the Institute of Aesthetic Studies (IIE) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), that reproduce the mural works of Diego Rivera at the Ministry of Public Education and Chapingo, together with those of José Clemente Orozco at the National Preparatory School in San Ildefonso.
The most recent revisionist accounts of Mexican muralism – and in particular that provided by Leonard Folgarait – have read the murals produced by los tres grandes – Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros – through a Foucauldian prism based upon a Poulantzian theory of the state. Eliding the concept of human agency and its complicated relationship to state patronage, these interpretations read off the imperatives of state ideology into the various murals sponsored by successive post-revolutionary governments. Consequently, the muralists become unreflexive agents of counter-revolution, and the political differences between them, and between them and the post-revolutionary governments that patronized them, largely insignificant. Following the suggestive readings of Meyer Schapiro and David Craven, the author introduces a more complex theory of the Mexican state into an analysis of the murals that it sponsored to allow for a far more differentiated and nuanced reading that properly contextualizes this important political medium as a site of active struggle.
A review article of Mary K Coffey's How Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State. This article is a discussion of the interaction of art and politics in Mexico in the post-revolutionary decades, focusing on the development of three museums, the Palace of Fine Arts, the National History Museum, and the National Anthropology Museum. It considers how the works of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros and José Clemente Orozco are seen in the discussions of art historians Mary Coffey and David Craven.
This article examines commonalities and differences between the literary and artistic avant-gardes in Mexico and Peru during the 1920s, as well as instances of direct exchange between Mexican writers and artists and Peruvian exiles in Mexico. It traces the ways in which works of literature and art conceptualized the avant-garde in relation to modernity and/or social justice. Debates around contemporary aesthetics, especially the perspectives of José Carlos Mariátegui and Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre, are addressed, as are the Mexican avant-garde movements Estridentismo and ꜟ30-30!.
This article addresses the constructions of Mexican graphic art history. In particular, a select group of recent exhibitions and their accompanying catalogues will be examined in relation to the narrative development of Mexican graphic art. How El Taller de Gráfica Popular (The Workshop for Popular Graphic Art) or TGP, a graphic art collective founded in Mexico City in 1937, is situated with Mexican art history is a primary concern of this article; it also addresses the significance of the Mexican Revolution to the TGP. In particular, this article analyses two prints by TGP member artists from the 1947 portfolio Las Estampas de la Revolución Mexicana (Prints of the Mexican Revolution) with a focus on the graphic collective's approach to narratives of the war.
This article addresses aesthetics in Latin America through an exploration of the meaning and impact of ideological theories proposed by thinkers including Karl Marx, Herbert Marcuse, Immanuel Kant and Sigmund Freud. It looks at the implications that these theories have for aesthetics as a critique of society and the potential of revolutionary utopian strategies to counter the capitalist law of value.
THIRD TEXT is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group