Mexican muralism


One of the many Mexican artistic expressions that narrate without the need for words the tradition and the past through which that country experienced. It is then, the Mexican muralism , a subtle way of informing the population about the findings of their land.


What is Mexican muralism?

It is one of the most distinctive and striking artistic genres in America, it was created by a group of intellectual painters after the Mexican Revolution , reinforced by the Great Depression and by the First World War.


What is Mexican muralism?

Mexican muralism tries to express the circumstances through which the country has passed, the wars, the class struggle  and all those difficulties that it has endured and from which it has emerged victorious, being in this way, of great ethnic and cultural value for the population.


History of Mexican muralism

Mexico began to paint murals at the time of the Olmec Civilization, however, it was not until 1921 when José Vasconcellos , who was one of the main Mexican intellectuals, assumed functions as Secretary of Public Education under the government of President Álvaro Obregón and commissioned different artists to paint a series of murals on the walls.

However, Mexican muralism is born from a cultural void , from a need, as a mechanism to express itself in a purely national way and in this way, feel proud.

The intellectuals who belonged to Mexican muralism sought to vindicate Latin America, and particularly Mexico, in two senses: one aesthetic and the other socio-political. It should be taken into account that muralism was a politically committed movement, which sought to erase all those bad situations and express them in a convenient way in order to shine internationally and give a drastic change to the works of art of the time.


Some of the causes that led to the emergence of Mexican muralism are the following:

  • Mexican pre-independence.
  • Mexican Revolution.
  • Murals of the Olmec Civilization.
  • Innovation and cultural authenticity.
  • The Mayan and Aztec culture greatly influenced.
  • The work of José Guadalupe Posada, which was impregnated with a fierce social political criticism and which included caricatures regarding European art.


The main consequences of Mexican muralism are:

  • New ways of expression.
  • More complex art.
  • The art of telling stories through painting in Mexico.
  • Creations of new assets and values.
  • New ideologies.
  • Freedom of thought.
  • It generated the development of political knowledge in the population.
  • Social ideas spread.
  • The perception that the population had of the indigenous people changed for the better, thus making coexistence more enjoyable.
  • What was called at the time, the new national identity , was achieved .

Characteristics of Mexican muralism

Mexican muralism has the following characteristics:

  • Visual messages: Through each work an era, a feeling or a passion was transmitted, for which after the fall of the Porfirio Díaz government , this being the end of the Mexican Revolution, society was gradually rebuilt, forming itself , new people with new ingrained values. Most of the visual messages transmitted in the beginning of muralism were commissioned by the government of a socialist nature, therefore, various messages that belonged to the first murals were controversial; in large part, this was due to the use of Marxismto communicate messages that would reach the illiterate people. However, these messages ended up forming part of the industrial identity that Mexico sought so much, for this reason, the murals are recognized as heritage, since they narrate the history of the country.
  • Representative purpose: The muralist works of art used to be painted in churches and other buildings that still stood since colonial times, and the simple fact that these murals went out of the ordinary and happened to be in the streets, expressed Mexican identity, adhering to the roots of the country’s independence in the same way, included in these works the Indians and mestizos who at that time were fighting against oppression and denigration.
  • Themes: The mural artists were free to choose any theme to be depicted in their artwork. However, the beliefs of all these artists were quite similar: art is the purest way to express themselves that humans have. In addition to this, all the works of this time had a political connotation, so the murals had a close relationship with the so-called “social realism”. In short, the murals were representations of society in its crudest state. Among the most transcendental works of muralism are the struggles of the Aztec aborigines against Spanish oppression, they were widely represented, as well as the social shock that occurred in the civil war during the revolution.
  • Influence on urban art : Mural art stood out for encouraging new artistic styles that began in the United States, but spread rapidly throughout Latin America : graffiti; making it known that the walls were also a useful instrument when it came to expressing oneself or creating.

Influence of Marxism on Mexican muralism

Although it is known that the structures of Marxism were not welcomed by all the artists of the time, however, some apprehended their ideals and reflected them in their works, it should be noted that for these the murals and the art they expressed was the definition of society, then reflecting the country in them.

Artists (edit)

The main artists of Mexican muralism are:

  • Gerardo Murillo (Dr. Atl): his pseudonym means water in Nahualt, thus putting his doctor of philosophy degree before him.
  • Diego Rivera: he sought the influence of Mayan and Aztec art, also taking an interest in popular arts. In his murals he tries to satisfy populist needs.
  • David Alfaro Siqueiros: Mexican painter and military man, pioneer of Mexican muralism.
  • José Clemente Orozco: made numerous murals in public buildings, with an impetuous narrative style, ranging from the pathetic to the tragic, from realism to symbolism , always within the strictest Mexicanist orientation.
  • Rufino Tamayo : one of the most important Mexican painters, he worked with the group of three, the name given to the precursors of muralism (Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco) in the muralist movement.
  • The architect Juan O’Gorman: in the same way, he made murals, the most outstanding of which are those of the «Independencia» room in the Chapultepec Castle. On the main staircase there is a mural that represents the most distinctive stages of the country’s history.


  • Mexican muralism, America, Rufino Tamayo.
  • Tlatelolco Market, Diego Rivera.
  • The march of humanity, David Alfaro Siquieiros.
  • The trench, José Clemente Orozco.
  • National Palace, Diego Rivera.
  • The torture of Cuauthémoc, David Alfaro Siquieiros.
  • Gods of the modern world, José Clemente Orozco.
  • The man, Rufino Tamayo.


Here are some books on Mexican muralism:

  • Diego Rivera, Hamil Peter.
  • Revolution on paper, Mexican prints 1910-1960
  • Mexican muralism 1920-1940, Ida Rodríguez Prampolini.
  • Philosophy of Mexican muralism, Héctor Jaimes.
  • The Renaissance of Mexican Muralism, Jean Charlot.

Importance of Mexican muralism

This movement is of the utmost importance, since it not only marked its country of origin in art, it took a turn that revolutionized politics, ideals, beliefs and values; The customs of Mexico today, the morals and ethics of the population are mostly rooted in this movement. Since with this independence of expression and creativity was achieved , in addition to being a basis for the national identity of the country.

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