Mexican Muralism (c. 1920–1940) By Stigberg, Sara
The Mexican Muralist movement was a nationalistic movement that aimed at producing an official modern art form distinct from European traditions, thus embracing and clearly expressing a unique Mexican cultural and social identity. Shortly after the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920), expatriate Mexican artists were summoned to return to the country. They were charged with creating public murals on government buildings, which would visually communicate unifying ideals to a largely illiterate population. Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, known collectively as Los Tres Grandes or The Great Three, were key figures in the movement. The architectural aspect of the large murals created during this period underscores the government’s and artists’ belief in art as a social and ideological tool, and reflects a desire to establish permanent expressions of a national identity. The works embraced and elevated mural painting in Mexico from a popular form to a form of high art. Further, the movement embodied social ideals manifested in the muralists’ work alongside carpenters, plasterers, and other laborers. The 1930s saw the solidification of a leftist national discourse, but by the 1940s, the major political developments in Mexico and Europe resulted in significant redefinition of this ideology, and Mexican Muralism became out-dated.