Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940

ColinHumphrey:, culture, exhibition, london, royal academy, paint, mexico a revolution in art, 2013ColinHumphrey:, culture, exhibition, london, royal academy, paint, mexico a revolution in art, 2013

6 July – 29 September 2013, Royal Academy, London. 10.00 GBP

About the show

An exhibition which show cases the art in Mexico between 1910 and 1940 revealing the beauty and brutality of revolution and the forging of new cultural paradigms within the Mexican psyche changing its perceptions from within its borders and beyond!

Between Primitivism and Classicism

The paintings and photography have a great dexterity and occupy a lively space in the imagination. The colours are rich, the details opulent and one’s overall sentiments vary between appreciation, unease and often awe. The Mexican art during this period was evolving out of the fashionable classical / neo-classical styles into something much closer to their national cultural sentiment and values. The artists rode upon a cultural shift preceded by a change in their government, the previous regime lasting over thirty years. The outcome of which was a program to enrich the national identity and artists took the opportunity to re-awaken their dreams and contribute to a new political and social zeitgeist of their own distinctiveness.

Cultural Infusions

The mixed reception that one may have is itself evident of the greater mixture of styles and mediums that existed, began to emerge and coalesced into a greater more coherent body of pictorial art. One thinks of the muralists Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco – The Three Big Ones. Other eminent artists are Frida Kahlo, although we only get to witness one of her pieces. Many foreign artists and photographers such as Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Andre Breton took up residence there for a time and only added to an already rich and thriving scene.

Variety and Styles

The subject matter varies from still lifes, social events, traditional life and much in between. The most resonant quality was the total conviction by the artists that what they were doing was right. At the time Mexico was quite a creative destination with famous artists and thinkers famous and infamous taking up residence there. Also the World Exposition of Mexico helped to create a strong international acclaim for the Country. Leon Trotsky sought refuge there from exile.

Art & Individuality & Masculinity

Look closely at the figures of Rivera notice the formal depiction is removed from the European style. The context is different so to the meaning derived from the technique. The subject matter often delights at things close at hand. The details are sketched in and the mood of the painting appears to be more important than the narrative. The painting exists as a pure expression and in its abandonment gives arise to new meanings and potentialities.


A historical exploration of Mexican art during and after the revolution between 1910 – 40.

written by: Colin Humphrey

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