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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940

In 1910, revolution brought years of instability to Mexico but, in its aftermath, the artistic community flourished under state sponsored programmes designed to promote the ideals of the new regime. 

Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 brings together work by Mexican artists at the forefront of the artistic movement including three larger-than-life painters - Diego Rivera (1886-1957), José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) - (who revisited the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution, and much of the country’s history, in creating powerful political murals), plus Rivera's wife, Frida Kahlo. Also on display is work by international artists and intellectuals who were drawn to the country by its political aspirations and the opportunities afforded to artists. Among them were Marsden Hartley, Josef Albers, Edward Burra, Paul Strand, Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Breton and Robert Capa.

Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 is a fascinating exhibition. The photography included is exceptional in its awareness of pattern and detail through close-up. There are wonderful spiritual landscapes by Hartley, Burra's vivid, detailed and disturbing Mexican Church, and Blakean watercolour sketches by Leon Underwood. The exhibition provides an interesting and engaging introduction to the period in question but is extremely limited in the range of work shown, with the key artists - Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros and Kahlo - restricted to one piece each. In amongst the mass of artists noted as visitors to Mexico, there are significant figures such as Leonora Carrington missing, while the broader influence of the Mexican muralists is not fully explored, including, for instance, the influence of Siqueiros on the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock. As Jonathan Jones has written in The Guardian it could and should have been so much more.


Transatlantic - We All Need Some Light.

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