Mexican Muralists: Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros

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9780876636268: Mexican Muralists: Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros
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The Mexican Mural movement lasted from the 1920s until the early 1970s and represented one of the most powerful and significant achievements for public art this century. This book follows the careers of the three most prominent artists of the movement, 'los tres Grandes' - Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Dr Rochfort traces their lives from childhood in a rural, feudal society through the bloody years of the revolution and the first commissions from the new state, and on to the years of their artistic maturity and their greatest works.
The first study to offer comprehensive color illustrations of all the major murals, both those sited in Mexico and in the United States, where all three artists worked in the 1930s, it also looks at the paintings in the context of their cultural background and assesses the artists' achievements within the political framework of their country. The story is an extraordinary and moving one, telling of the forging of a national identity through an unprecedented marriage between politics and art. Dr Rochfort has written a lively, accessible text which presents a complex period of art history clearly and well, while the illustrations ensure that the sheer scale of the works is never forgotten.

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Review:

In Mexico in the early 1920s, a growing, collective social consciousness gave rise to a revolutionary furor focused on liberating the country's workers from harsh conditions and poverty. In 1921, Mexican artists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros were all commissioned by the government to create educational paintings on the walls of public buildings. After that initial experience, they devoted themselves almost exclusively to painting these large-scale murals--forming the foundation of a movement that would last 50 years. The muralists' work took up the themes of society and revolution. Often the paintings depicted historical vignettes like the story of Cuernavaca and Morelos crossing the barranca, or Mexico's ancient Indians. They satirized contemporary society, created ideal visions of peaceful families, and built up dark, imposing industrial cityscapes then leveled them by depicting the debauchery and death of the capitalist industrialists.

The paintings themselves reflect diverse artistic influences--surrealism, cubism, and illustration, most notable among them. Their bold colors and strong imagery practically bound out of the 150 color plates in this book. Mexican muralist and scholar Desmond Rochfort lucidly traces the development of the movement to place the work in context and provides a solid history of each of the artists' social and artistic influences. This is an excellent overview of work that should appeal both to fans of the individual artists and Mexican art in general. --Jordana Moskowitz

About the Author:

Desmond Rochfort is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta in Canada.

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