Mexican art consists of various visual arts that developed over the geographical area now known as Mexico. The development of these arts roughly follows the history of Mexico, divided into the prehispanic Mesoamerican era, the colonial period, with the period after Mexican War of Independence further subdivide. Mexican art is usually filled most of the time with intricate patterns.
Many people describe MexicanArt as Vibrant, Colourful and symatrinco which basically means the same as democratisation.
Mesoamerican art is that produced in an area that encompasses much of what is now central and southern Mexico, before the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire for a period of about 3,000 years from Mexican Art can be bright and colourful this is called encopended. During this time, all influences on art production were indigenous, with art heavily tied to religion and the ruling class. There was little to no real distinction among art, architecture, and writing. The Spanish conquest led to 300 years of Spanish colonial rule, and art production remained tied to religion—most art was associated with the construction and decoration of churches, but secular art expanded in the eighteenth century, particularly casta paintings, portraiture, and history painting. Almost all art produced was in the European tradition, with late colonial-era artists trained at the Academy of San Carlos, but indigenous elements remained, beginning a continuous balancing act between European and indigenous traditions.
After Independence, art remained heavily European in style, but indigenous themes appeared in major works as liberal Mexico sought to distinguish itself from its Spanish colonial past. This preference for indigenous elements continued into the first half of the 20th century, with the Social Realism or Mexican muralist movement led by artists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, and Fernando Leal, who were commissioned by the post-Mexican Revolution government to create a visual narrative of Mexican history and culture.
The strength of this artistic movement was such that it affected newly invented technologies, such as still photography and cinema, and strongly promoted popular arts and crafts as part of Mexico's identity. Since the 1950s, Mexican art has broken away from the muralist style and has been more globalized, integrating elements from Asia, with Mexican artists and filmmakers having an effect on the global stage.
It is believed that the American continent's oldest rock art, 7500 years old, is found in a cave on the peninsula of Baja California.
The pre-Hispanic art of Mexico belongs to a cultural region known as Mesoamerica, which roughly corresponds to central Mexico on into Central America, encompassing three thousand years from 1500 BCE to 1500 CE generally divided into three eras: Pre Classic, Classic and Post Classic. The first dominant Mesoamerican culture was that of the Olmecs, which peaked around 1200 BCE. The Olmecs originated much of what is associated with Mesoamerica, such as hieroglyphic writing, calendar, first advances in astronomy, monumental sculpture (Olmec heads) and jade work.
They were a forerunner of later cultures such as Teotihuacan, north of Mexico City, the Zapotecs in Oaxaca and the Mayas in southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. While empires rose and fell, the basic cultural underpinnings of the Mesoamerica stayed the same until the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. These included cities centered on plazas, temples usually built on pyramid bases, Mesoamerican ball courts and a mostly common cosmology.
While art forms such as cave paintings and rock etchings date from earlier, the known history of Mexican art begins with Mesoamerican art created by sedentary cultures that built cities, and often, dominions. While the art of Mesoamerica is more varied and extends over more time than anywhere else in the Americas, artistic styles show a number of similarities.
Unlike modern Western art, almost all Mesoamerican art was created to serve religious or political needs, rather than art for art's sake. It is strongly based on nature, the surrounding political reality and the gods. Octavio Paz states that "Mesoamerican art is a logic of forms, lines, and volumes that is as the same time a cosmology." He goes on to state that this focus on space and time is highly distinct from European naturalism based on the representation of the human body. Even simple designs such as stepped frets on buildings fall into this representation of space and time, life and the gods.
Art was expressed on a variety of mediums such as ceramics, amate paper and architecture. Most of what is known of Mesoamerican art comes from works that cover stone buildings and pottery, mostly paintings and reliefs. Ceramics date from the early the Mesoamerican period. They probably began as cooking and storage vessels but then were adapted to ritual and decorative uses. Ceramics were decorated by shaping, scratching, painting and different firing methods.
The earliest known purely artistic production were small ceramic figures that appeared in Tehuacán area around 1,500 BCE and spread to Veracruz, the Valley of Mexico, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and the Pacific coast of Guatemala. The earliest of these are mostly female figures, probably associated with fertility rites because of their often oversized hips and thighs, as well as a number with babies in arms or nursing. When male figures appear they are most often soldiers. The production of these ceramic figures, which would later include animals and other forms, remained an important art form for 2000 years. In the early Olmec period most were small but large-scale ceramic sculptures were produced as large as 55 cm.
After the middle pre-Classic, ceramic sculpture declined in the center of Mexico except in the Chupícuaro region. In the Mayan areas, the art disappears in the late pre-Classic, to reappear in the Classic, mostly in the form of whistles and other musical instruments. In a few areas, such as parts of Veracruz, the creation of ceramic figures continued uninterrupted until the Spanish conquest, but as a handcraft, not a formal art.
Mesoamerican painting is found in various expressions—from murals, to the creation of codices and the painting of ceramic objects. Evidence of painting goes back at least to 1800 BCE and continues uninterrupted in one form or another until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. Although it may have occurred earlier, the earliest known cases of artistic painting of monumental buildings occur in the early Classic period with the Mayas at Uaxactun and Tikal, and in Teotihuacan with walls painted in various colors.
Paints were made from animal, vegetable and mineral pigments and bases. Most paintings focus one or more human figures, which may be realistic or stylized, masculine, feminine or asexual. They may be naked or richly attired, but the social status of each figure is indicated in some way. Scenes often depict war, sacrifice, the roles of the gods or the acts of nobles. However, some common scenes with common people have been found as well. Other subjects included gods, symbols and animals. Mesoamerican painting was bi-dimensional with no efforts to create the illusion of depth. However, movement is often represented.
Non-ceramic sculpture in Mesoamerica began with the modification of animal bones, with the oldest known piece being an animal skull from Tequixquiac that dates between 10,000 and 8,000 BCE. Most Mesoamerican sculpture is of stone; while relief work on buildings is the most dominant, freestanding sculpture was done as well. Freestanding three-dimensional stone sculpture began with the Olmecs, with the most famous example being the giant Olmec stone heads. This disappeared for the rest of the Mesoamerican period in favor of relief work until the late post-Classic with the Aztecs.
The majority of stonework during the Mesoamerican period is associated with monumental architecture that, along with mural painting, was considered an integral part of architecture rather than separate. Monumental architecture began with the Olmecs in southern Veracruz and the coastal area of Tabasco in places such as San Lorenzo; large temples on pyramid bases can still be seen in sites such as Montenegro, Chiapa de Corzo and La Venta. This practice spread to the Oaxaca area and the Valley of Mexico, appearing in cities such as Monte Albán, Cuicuilco and Teotihuacan.
These cities had a nucleus of one or more plazas, with temples, palaces and Mesoamerican ball courts. Alignment of these structures was based on the cardinal directions and astronomy for ceremonial purposes, such as focusing the sun's rays during the spring equinox on a sculpted or painted image. This was generally tied to calendar systems. Relief sculpture and/or painting were created as the structures were built. By the latter pre-Classic, almost all monumental structures in Mesoamerica had extensive relief work. Some of the best examples of this are Monte Albán, Teotihuacan and Tula.
Pre-Hispanic reliefs are general lineal in design and low, medium and high reliefs can be found. While this technique is often favored for narrative scenes elsewhere in the world, Mesoamerican reliefs tend to focus on a single figure. The only time reliefs are used in the narrative sense is when several relief steles are placed together. The best relief work is from the Mayas, especially from Yaxchilan.
Writing and art were not distinct as they have been for European cultures. Writing was considered art and art was often covering in writing. The reason for this is that both sought to record history and the culture's interpretation of reality.(salvatvolp14) Manuscripts were written on paper or other book-like materials then bundled into codices. The art of reading and writing was strictly designated to the highest priest classes, as this ability was a source of their power over society.
The pictograms or glyphs of this writing system were more formal and rigid than images found on murals and other art forms as they were considered mostly symbolic, representing formulas related to astronomical events, genealogy and historic events. Most surviving pre-Hispanic codices come from the late Mesoamerican period and early colonial period, as more of these escaped destruction over history. For this reason, more is known about the Aztec Empire than the Mayan cultures. Important Aztec codices include the Borgia Group of mainly religious works, some of which probably pre-date the conquest, the Codex Borbonicus, Codex Mendoza, and the late Florentine Codex, which is in a European style but executed by Mexican artists, probably drawing on earlier material that is now lost.
Church construction After the conquest, Spaniards' first efforts were directed at evangelization and the related task of building churches, which needed indigenous labor for basic construction, but they Nahuas elaborated stonework exteriors and decorated church interiors. Indigenous craftsmen were taught European motifs, designs and techniques, but very early work, called tequitqui (Nahuatl for “vassal”), includes elements such as flattened faces and high-stiff relief. The Spanish friars directing construction were not trained architects or engineers. They relied on indigenous stonemasons and sculptors to build churches and other Christian structures, often in the same places as temples and shrines of the traditional religion. "Although some Indians complained about the burden such labor represented, most communities considered a large and impressive church to be a reflection of their town's importance and took justifiable pride in creating a sacred place for divine worship." The fact that so many colonial-era churches have survived centuries it testament to their general good construction.
The first monasteries built in and around Mexico City, such as the monasteries on the slopes of Popocatepetl, had Renaissance, Plateresque, Gothic or Moorish elements, or some combination. They were relatively undecorated, with building efforts going more towards high walls and fortress features to ward off attacks. The construction of more elaborate churches with large quantities of religious artwork would define much of the artistic output of the colonial period. Most of the production was related to the teaching and reinforcement of Church doctrine, just as in Europe. Religious art set the rationale for Spanish domination over the indigenous. Today, colonial-era structures and other works exist all over the country, with a concentration in the central highlands around Mexico City.
Feather work was a highly valued skill of prehispanic central Mexico that continued into the early colonial era. Spaniards were fascinated by this form of art, and indigenous feather workers (amanteca) produced religious images in this medium, mainly small "paintings", as well as religious vestments.
Indigenous writings Indians continued production of written manuscripts in the early colonial era, especially codices in the Nahua area of central Mexico. An important early manuscript that was commissioned for the Spanish crown was Codex Mendoza, named after the first viceroy of Mexico, Don Antonio de Mendoza, which shows the tribute delivered to the Aztec ruler from individual towns as well as descriptions of proper comportment for the common people. A far more elaborate project utilizing indigenous scribes illustration is the project resulting in the Florentine Codex directed by Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún. Other indigenous manuscripts in the colonial era include the Huexotzinco Codex and Codex Osuna.
An important type of manuscript from the early period were pictorial and textual histories of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs from the indigenous viewpoint. The early Lienzo de Tlaxcala illustrated the contributions the Spaniards' Tlaxcalan allies made to the defeat of the Aztec Empire, as well the Hernán Cortés and his cultural translator Doña Marina (Malinche).
Painting Most Nahua artists producing this visual art are anonymous. An exception is the work of Juan Gerson, who ca. 1560 decorated the vault of the Franciscan church in the Nahua town of Tecamachalco,(Puebla state), with individual scenes from the Old Testament.
While colonial art remained almost completely European in style, with muted colors and no indication of movement—the addition of native elements, which began with the tequitqui, continued. They were never the center of the works, but decorative motifs and filler, such as native foliage, pineapples, corn, and cacao. Much of this can be seen on portals as well as large frescoes that often decorated the interior of churches and the walls of monastery areas closed to the public.
The earliest of Mexico's colonial artists were Spanish-born who came to Mexico in the middle of their careers. This included mendicant friars, such as Fray Alonso López de Herrera. Later, most artists were born in Mexico, but trained in European techniques, often from imported engravings. This dependence on imported copies meant that Mexican works preserved styles after they had gone out of fashion in Europe. In the colonial period, artists worked in guilds, not independently. Each guild had its own rules, precepts, and mandates in technique—which did not encourage innovation.
Baroque painting became firmly established in Mexico by the middle of the 17th century with the work of Spaniard Sebastián López de Arteaga. His painting is exemplified by the canvas called Doubting Thomas from 1643. In this work, the Apostle Thomas is shown inserting his finger in the wound in Christ's side to emphasize Christ's suffering. The caption below reads "the Word made flesh" and is an example of Baroque's didactic purpose.
One difference between painters in Mexico and their European counterparts is that they preferred realistic directness and clarity over fantastic colors, elongated proportions and extreme spatial relationships. The goal was to create a realistic scene in which the viewer could imagine himself a part of. This was a style created by Caravaggio in Italy, which became popular with artists in Seville, from which many migrants came to New Spain came. Similarly, Baroque free standing sculptures feature life-size scales, realistic skin tones and the simulation of gold-threaded garments through a technique called estofado, the application of paint over gold leaf.
The most important later influence to Mexican and other painters in Latin America was the work of Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, known through copies made from engravings and mezzotint techniques. His paintings were copied and reworked and became the standard for both religious and secular art. Later Baroque paintings moved from the confines of altarpieces to colossal freestanding canvases on church interiors. One of the best known Mexican painters of this kind of work was Cristóbal de Villalpando. His work can be seen in the sacristy of the Mexico City Cathedral, which was done between 1684 and 1686. These canvases were glued directly onto the walls with arched frames to stabilize them, and placed just under the vaults of the ceiling. Even the fresco work of the 16th century was not usually this large. Another one of Villalpando's works is the cupola of the Puebla Cathedral in 1688. He used Rubens’ brush techniques and the shape of the structure to create a composition of clouds with angels and saints, from which a dove descends to represent the Holy Spirit. The light from the cupola's windows is meant to symbolize God's grace. Juan Rodríguez Juárez (1675–1728) and mulatto artist Juan Correa (1646–1716) were also prominent painters of the baroque era. Correa's most famous student, José de Ibarra (1685–1756) was also mixed-race. One of Mexico's finest painters, Miguel Cabrera (1695–1768), was possibly mixed race.
The church produced the most important works of the seventeenth century. Among the important painters were Baltasar de Echave Ibia and his son Baltasar Echave Rioja, also Luis Juárez and his son José Juárez, Juan Correa, Cristóbal de Villalpando, Rodrigo de la Piedra, Antonio de Santander, Polo Bernardino, Juan de Villalobos, Juan Salguero and Juan de Herrera. Juan Correa, worked from 1671 to 1716 and reached great prestige and reputation for the quality of its design and scale of some of his works. Among the best known: 'Apocalypse in the Cathedral of Mexico', 'Conversion of St. Mary Magdalene', now in the 'Pinacoteca Virreinal' and 'Santa Catarina and Adam and Eve casting out of paradise', the latter located in the National Museum of Viceroyalty of Tepotzotlán.
Colonial religious art was sponsored by Church authorities and private patrons. Sponsoring the rich ornamentation of churches was a way for the wealthy to gain prestige. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Mexico City was one of the wealthiest in the world, mostly due to mining and agriculture, and was able to support a large art scene.
While most commissioned art was for churches, secular works were commissioned as well. Portrait painting was known relatively early in the colonial period, mostly of viceroys and archbishops. Beginning in the late Baroque period, portrait painting of local nobility became a significant genre. Two notable painters of this type are brothers Nicolás and Juan Rodríguez Juárez. These works followed European models, with symbols of rank and titles either displayed unattached in the outer portions or worked into another element of the paintings such as curtains.
Another type of secular colonial painting is called casta paintings referring to the depiction of racial hierarchy racially in eighteenth-century New Spain. Some were likely commissioned by Spanish functionaries as souvenirs of Mexico. A number of artists of the era created casta paintings, including Miguel Cabrera, José de Ibarra, Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, Francisco Clapera, and Luis de Mena, but most casta paintings are unsigned. Ibarra, Morlete, and possibly Cabrera were of mixed race and born outside Mexico City. Mena's only known casta painting links the Virgin of Guadalupe and the casta system, as well as depictions of fruits and vegetables and scenes of everyday life in mideighteenth-century Mexico. It is one of the most-reproduced examples of casta paintings, one of the small number that show the casta system on a single canvas rather than up to 16 separate paintings. It is unique in uniting the thoroughly secular genre of casta painting with a depiction of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Production of these paintings stopped after the Mexican War of Independence, when legal racial categories were repudiated in independent Mexico. Until the run-up to the 500th anniversary of the Columbus's 1492 voyage, casta paintings were of little or no interest, even to art historians, but scholars began systematically studying them as a genre.
Mexico was a crossroads of trade in the colonial period, with goods from Asia and Europe mixing with those natively produced. This convergence is most evident in the decorative arts of New Spain. It was popular among the upper classes to have a main public room, called a salon de estrado, to be covered in rugs and cushions for women to recline in Moorish fashion. Stools and later chairs and settees were added for men. Folding screens were introduced from Japan, with Mexican-style ones produced called biombos The earliest of these Mexican made screens had oriental designs but later ones had European and Mexican themes. One example of this is a screen with the conquest of Mexico one side and an aerial view of Mexico City on the other at the Franz Mayer Museum.
The Crown promoted the establishment in Mexico of the Neoclassical style of art and architecture, which had become popular in Spain. This style was a reinterpretation of Greco-Roman references and its use was a way to reinforce European dominance in the Spain's colonies. One Neoclassical artist from the Academy at the end of the colonial period was Manuel Tolsá. He first taught sculpture at the Academy of San Carlos and then became its second director. Tolsá designed a number of Neoclassical buildings in Mexico but his best known work is an equestrian status of King Charles IV in bronze cast in 1803 and originally placed in the Zócalo. As of 2011 it can be seen at the Museo Nacional de Arte.
Along with the construction of temples and houses artistic religious themes proliferated. In New Spain, as in the rest of the New World, since the seventeenth century, particularly during the eighteenth century, the portrait became an important part of the artistic repertoire. In a society characterized by a deep religious feeling which was imbued, it was expected that many portraits reflected the moral virtues and piety of the model.
Some prominent painters of this period are: Cristóbal de Villalpando, Juan Correa, José de Ibarra, Joseph Mora, Nicolas Rodriguez Juarez, Francisco Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Andrés López and Nicolás Enríquez. Sebastian Zalcedo painted ca. 1780 a beautiful allegory of the Virgin of Guadalupe in oil on copper foil. In this century Josep Antonio de Ayala was a prominent artist, who is known for painting The family of the Valley at the foot of Our Lady of Loreto c. 1769. This devotional painting was commissioned to be done for the children of the del Valle family in memory of his parents and is characteristic of the painting of this century.
A description of colonial art says: "In the "Sponsorship of Saint Joseph on the Caroline College", Saint Joseph is seen as a major figure of the work, who carries on his left side the child Jesus. Two archangels flank him and maintain its long purple robe. At the top two little angels are observed with intent to crown the holy". "For centuries, the work was attributed to Manuel Caro, but the meticulous restoration work allowed to find the signature of the original author. Miguel Cabrera"
The last colonial era art institution established was the Academy of San Carlos in 1783. While the depiction of saints consumed most artistic efforts, they were not without political effects. The most important of these was the rise of the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe as an American rather than European saint, representative of a distinct identity.
By the late 18th century, Spain's colonies were becoming culturally independent from Spain, including its arts. The Academy was established by the Spanish Crown to regain control of artistic expression and the messages it disseminated. This school was staffed by Spanish artists in each of the major disciplines, with the first director being Antonio Gil. The school became home to a number of plaster casts of classic statues from the San Fernando Fine Arts Academy in Spain, brought there for teaching purposes. These casts are on display in the Academy's central patio. The Academy of San Carlos survived into post-independence Mexico.
Artists of the independence era in Mexico (1810–21) produced works showing the insurgency's heroes. A portrait of secular cleric José María Morelos in his military uniform was painted by an unknown artist. The portrait is typical of those from the late eighteenth century, with framing elements, a formal caption, and new elements being iconography of the emerging Mexican nationalism, including the eagle atop the nopal cactus, which became the central image for the Mexican flag. Morelos was the subject of a commissioned statue, with Pedro Patiño Ixtolinque, who trained at the Academy of San Carlos and remained an important sculptor through the era of era independence.
The Academy of San Carlos remained the center of academic painting and the most prestigious art institution in Mexico until the Mexican War of Independence, during which it was closed. Despite its association with the Spanish Crown and European painting tradition, the Academy was reopened by the new government after Mexico gained full independence in 1821. Its former Spanish faculty and students either died during the war or returned to Spain, but when it reopened it attracted the best art students of the country, and continued to emphasize classical European traditions until the early 20th century.
The academy was renamed to the National Academy of San Carlos. The new government continued to favor Neoclassical as it considered the Baroque a symbol of colonialism. The Neoclassical style continued in favor through the reign of Maximilian I although President Benito Juárez supported it only reluctantly, considering its European focus a vestige of colonialism.
Despite Neoclassicism's association with European domination, it remained favored by the Mexican government after Independence and was used in major government commissions at the end of the century. However, indigenous themes appeared in paintings and sculptures. One indigenous figure depicted in Neoclassical style is Tlahuicol, done by Catalan artist Manuel Vilar in 1851. In 1887, Porfirio Díaz commissioned the statue of the last Aztec emperor, Cuauhtémoc, which can be seen on Paseo de la Reforma. Cuauhtémoc is depicted with a toga-like cloak with a feathered headdress similar to an Etruscan or Trojan warrior rather than an Aztec emperor. The base has elements reminiscent of Mitla and Roman architecture. This base contains bronze plates depicting scenes from the Spanish conquest, but focusing on the indigenous figures.
There were two reasons for this shift in preferred subject. The first was that Mexican society denigrated colonial culture—the indigenous past was seen as more truly Mexican. The other factor was a worldwide movement among artists to confront society, which began around 1830. In Mexico, this anti-establishment sentiment was directed at the Academy of San Carlos and its European focus.
In the first half of the 19th century, the Romantic style of painting was introduced into Mexico and the rest of Latin America by foreign travelers interested in the newly independent country. One of these was Bavarian artist Johann Moritz Rugendas, who lived in the country from 1831 to 1834. He painted scenes with dynamic composition and bright colors in accordance with Romantic style, looking for striking, sublime, and beautiful images in Mexico as well as other areas of Latin America. However much of Rugendas's works are sketches for major canvases, many of which were never executed. Others include Englishman Daniel Egerton, who painted landscapes in the British Romantic tradition, and German Carl Nebel, who primarily created lithographs of the various social and ethnic populations of the country.
A number of native-born artists at the time followed the European Romantic painters in their desire to document the various cultures of Mexico. These painters were called costumbristas, a word deriving from costumbre (custom). The styles of these painters were not always strictly Romantic, involving other styles as well. Most of these painters were from the upper classes and educated in Europe. While the European painters viewed subjects as exotic, the costumbristas had a more nationalistic sense of their home countries. One of these painters was Agustín Arrieta from Puebla, who applied realistic techniques to scenes from his home city, capturing its brightly painted tiles and ceramics. His scenes often involved everyday life such as women working in kitchen and depicted black and Afro-Mexican vendors.
In the mid-to late 19th century Latin American academies began to shift away from severe Neoclassicism to “academic realism”. Idealized and simplified depictions became more realistic, with emphasis on details. Scenes in this style were most often portraits of the upper classes, Biblical scenes, and battles—especially those from the Independence period. When the Academy of San Carlos was reopened after a short closure in 1843, its new Spanish and Italian faculty pushed this realist style. Despite government support and nationalist themes, native artists were generally shorted in favor of Europeans.
One of the most important painters in Mexico in the mid 19th century was Catalan Pelegrí Clavé, who painted landscapes but was best known for his depictions of the intellectual elite of Mexico City. Realist painters also attempted to portray Aztec culture and people by depicting settings inhabited by indigenous people, using live indigenous models and costumes based on those in Conquest era codices. One of these was Félix Parra, whose depictions of the conquest empathized with the suffering of the indigenous. In 1869, José Obregón painted The Discovery of Pulque; he based his depictions of architecture on Mixtec codices, but misrepresented temples as a setting for a throne.
The art of the 19th century after Independence is considered to have declined, especially during the late 19th century and early 20th, during the regime of Porfirio Díaz (1876–1911). Although during this time, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts were often limited to imitation of European styles, the emergence of young artists, such as Diego Rivera and Saturnino Herrán, increased the focus on Mexican-themed works. This meant that following the military phase of the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s, Mexican artists made huge strides is forging a robust artistic nationalism.
In this century there are examples of murals such as folkloric style created between 1855 and 1867 in La Barca, Jalisco.
Highlights at this time: Pelegrín Clavé, Juan Cordero, Felipe Santiago Gutiérrez and José Agustín Arrieta. In Mexico, in 1846 he was hired to direct Pelegrín Clavé's reopening of the Academy of San Carlos, a body from which he promoted the historical and landscaping themes with a pro-European vision.
The Academy of San Carlos continued to advocate classic, European-style training until 1913. In this year, the academy was partially integrated with National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Between 1929 and the 1950s, the academy’s architecture program was split off as a department of the university; the programs in painting, sculpture, and engraving were renamed the National School of Expressive Arts, now the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas (ENAP). Both moved to the south of the city in the mid-20th century, to Ciudad Universitaria and Xochimilco respectively, leaving only some graduate programs in fine arts in the original academy building in the historic center. ENAP remains one of the main centers for the training of Mexico’s artists.
While a shift to more indigenous and Mexican themes appeared in the 19th century, the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920 had a dramatic effect on Mexican art. The conflict resulted in the rise of the Partido Revolucionario Nacional (renamed the Partido Revolucionario Institucional), which took the country in a socialist direction. The government became an ally to many of the intellectuals and artists in Mexico City and commissioned murals for public buildings to reinforce its political messages including those that emphasized Mexican rather than European themes. These were not created for popular or commercial tastes; however, they gained recognition not only in Mexico, but in the United States.
This production of art in conjunction with government propaganda is known as the Mexican Modernist School or the Mexican Muralist Movement, and it redefined art in Mexico. Octavio Paz gives José Vasconcelos credit for initiating the Muralist movement in Mexico by commissioning the best-known painters in 1921 to decorate the walls of public buildings. The commissions were politically motivated—they aimed to glorify the Mexican Revolution and redefine the Mexican people vis-à-vis their indigenous and Spanish past.
The first of these commissioned paintings were at San Ildefonso done by Fernando Leal, Fermín Revueltas, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera. The first true fresco in the building was the work of Jean Charlot. However, technical errors were made in the construction of these murals: a number of them began to blister and were covered in wax for preservation. Roberto Montenegro painted the former church and monastery of San Pedro y San Pablo, but the mural in the church was painted in tempera and began to flake. In the monastery area, Montenegro painted the Feast of the Holy Cross, which depicts Vasconcelos as the protector of Muralists. Vasconcelos was later blanked out and a figure of a woman was painted over him.
The first protagonist in the production of modern murals in Mexico was Dr. Atl. Dr Atl was born “Gerard Murillo” in Guadalajara in 1875. He changed his name in order to identify himself as Mexican. Atl worked to promote Mexico's folk art and handcrafts. While he had some success as a painter in Guadalajara, his radical ideas against academia and the government prompted him to move to more liberal Mexico City. In 1910, months before the start of the Mexican Revolution, Atl painted the first modern mural in Mexico. He taught major artists to follow him, including those who came to dominate Mexican mural painting.
The muralist movement reached its height in the 1930s with four main protagonists: Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, and Fernando Leal. It is the most studied part of Mexico's art history. All were artists trained in classical European techniques and many of their early works are imitations of then-fashionable European paintings styles, some of which were adapted to Mexican themes. The political situation in Mexico from the 1920s to 1950s and the influence of Dr. Atl prompted these artists to break with European traditions, using bold indigenous images, lots of color, and depictions of human activity, especially of the masses, in contrast to the solemn and detached art of Europe.
Preferred mediums generally excluded traditional canvases and church porticos and instead were the large, then-undecorated walls of Mexico's government buildings. The main goal in many of these paintings was the glorification of Mexico's pre-Hispanic past as a definition of Mexican identity. They had success in both Mexico and the United States, which brought them fame and wealth as well as Mexican and American students.
These muralists revived the fresco technique for their mural work, although Siqueiros moved to industrial techniques and materials such as the application of pyroxilin, a commercial enamel used for airplanes and automobiles. One of Rivera's earliest mural efforts emblazoned the courtyard of the Ministry of Education with a series of dancing tehuanas (natives of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico). This four-year project went on to incorporate other contemporary indigenous themes, and it eventually encompassed 124 frescoes that extended three stories high and two city blocks long. The Abelardo Rodriguez Market was painted in 1933 by students of Diego Rivera, one of whom was Isamu Noguchi.
Another important figure of this time period was Frida Kahlo, the wife of Diego Rivera. While she painted canvases instead of murals, she is still considered part of the Mexican Modernist School as her work emphasized Mexican folk culture and colors. Kahlo's self-portraits during the 1930s and 40s were in stark contrast to the lavish murals artists like her husband were creating at the time. Having suffered a crippling bus accident earlier in her teenage life, she began to challenge Mexico's obsession with the female body. Her portraits, purposefully small, addressed a wide range of topics not being addressed by the mainstream art world at the time. These included motherhood, domestic violence, and male egoism.
Her paintings never had subjects wearing lavish jewelry or fancy clothes like those found in muralist paintings. Instead, she would sparsely dress herself up, and when there were accessories, it added that much more importance to them. She would also depict herself in very surreal, unsettling scenarios like in The Two Fridas where she depicts two versions of herself, one with a broken heart and one with a healthy infusing the broken heart with “hopeful” blood., or Henry Ford Hospital where she depicts herself in having an abortion and the struggle she had in real life coming to terms with it.
Although she was the wife of Diego Rivera, her self-portraits stayed rather obscured from the public eye until well after her passing in 1954. Her art has grown in popularity and she is seen by many to be one of the earliest and most influential feminist artists of the 20th century.
Despite maintaining an active national art scene, Mexican artists after the muralist period had a difficult time breaking into the international art market. One reason for this is that in the Americas, Mexico City was replaced by New York as the center of the art community, especially for patronage. Within Mexico, government sponsorship of art in the 20th century (dominated until 2000 by the PRI party) meant religious themes and criticism of the government were effectively censored. This was mostly passive, with the government giving grants to artists who conformed to their requirements.
The first to break with the nationalistic and political tone of the muralist movement was Rufino Tamayo. For this reason he was first appreciated outside of Mexico. Tamayo was a contemporary to Rivera, Siqueiros, and Orozco, and trained at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. Like them he explored Mexican identity in his work after the Mexican Revolution. However, he rejected the political Social Realism popularized by the three other artists and was rejected by the new establishment.
He left for New York in 1926 where success allowed him to exhibit in his native Mexico. His lack of support for the post-Revolutionary government was controversial. Because of this he mostly remained in New York, continuing with his success there and later in Europe. His rivalry with the main three Mexican muralists continued both in Mexico and internationally through the 1950s. Even a belated honorific of “The Fourth Great One” was controversial.
In 1953, Museo Experimental El Eco (in Mexico City) opened; it was created by Mathias Goeritz.
The first major movement after the muralists was the Rupture Movement, which began in the 1950s and 1960s with painters such as José Luis Cuevas, Gilberto Navarro, Rafael Coronel, Alfredo Casaneda, and sculptor Juan Soriano. They rejected social realism and nationalism and incorporated surrealism, visual paradoxes, and elements of Old World painting styles. This break meant that later Mexican artists were generally not influenced by muralism or by Mexican folk art.
José Luis Cuevas created self-portraits in which he reconstructed scenes from famous paintings by Spanish artists such as Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Goya, and Picasso. Like Kahlo before him, he drew himself but instead of being centered, his image is often to the side, as an observer. The goal was to emphasize the transformation of received visual culture.
Another important figure during this time period was Swiss-Mexican Gunther Gerzso, but his work was a “hard-edged variant” of Abstract Expressionism, based on clearly defined geometric forms as well as colors, with an effect that makes them look like low relief. His work was a mix of European abstraction and Latin American influences, including Mesoamerican ones. In the watercolor field we can distinguish Edgardo Coghlan and Ignacio Barrios who were not aligned to a specific artistic movement but were not less important.
"Designed by Mathias Goeritz, a series of sculptures ... [lined] the "Route of Friendship" (Ruta de la Amistad) in celebration of the Olympics ... In contestation to the government-sanctioned artistic exhibition for the Olympics, a group of diverse, independent visual artists organize a counterpresentation entitled Salón Independiente, or Independent Salon; the exhibition signifies a key event in the resistance by artists of state-controlled cultural policies. This show of antigovernment efforts by artists would also be expressed in a mural in support of student movement's protests; the work became known as the Mural Efímero (or Ephemeral Mural)" at UNAM".
"In an attempt to reassess ... post-1968 Mexican art, the Museum of Science and Art at UNAM" organized in 2007, the exhibition La Era de la Discrepancia. Arte y cultura visual en México 1968-1997
In 1990 the exhibition Mexico: Esplendor de Treinta Siglos, started its world tour at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Swiss-German artist, Mathias Goeritz, in the 1950s created public sculptures including the Torres Satélite in Ciudad Satélite. In the 1960s, he became central to the development of abstract and other modern art along with José Luis Cuevas and Pedro Friedeberg.
In the mid-1980s, the next major movement in Mexico was Neomexicanismo, a slightly surreal, somewhat kitsch and postmodern version of Social Realism that focused on popular culture rather than history. The name neomexicanismo was originally used by critics to belittle the movement. Works were not necessarily murals: they used other mediums such as collage and often parodied and allegorized cultural icons, mass media, religion, and other aspects of Mexican culture. This generation of artists were interested in traditional Mexican values and exploring their roots—often questioning or subverting them. Another common theme was Mexican culture vis-à-vis globalization.
Art from the 1990s to the present is roughly categorized as Postmodern, although this term has been used to describe works created before the 1990s. Major artists associated with this label include Betsabeé Romero, Monica Castillo, Francisco Larios, Martha Chapa and Diego Toledo.
In 1974 Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil (MACG), a gallery and museum, opened.
Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo opened in Mexico City in 1986, now defunct. "In 1998 ... with the sudden death of its chief executive, Televisa closed ... [the gallery] for a time, as the turnover in the company coincided with a drastic drop in the company's profitability".  [Parts of the] collection have since been exhibited at "different museums, requiring its own space": at Tamayo Museum in 2001, at the Fine Arts Palace Museum ... in 2002; and at MUNAL in 2003.
Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) opened in 2008.
Octavio Mercado said in 2012 that the activity of art criticism still can be found in specialized magazines and nationally disseminated newspapers; furthermore, a new generation of art critics include Daniela Wolf, Ana Elena Mallet, Gabriella Gómez-Mont, and Pablo Helguera.  (Prior to that, claims were made in 2004, that a deficit of native writing about Mexican art, symbolism, and trends, resulted in modern Mexican art shown abroad having been mislabeled or poorly described, as foreign institutions do not sufficiently understand or appreciate the political and social circumstances behind the pieces.)
Some of the most prominent painters in this century are:
The great Mexican muralists of the post-revolution developed, with the paint mural, the concept of "public art", an art to be seen by Ias masses in major public buildings of the time, and could not be bought and transported easily elsewhere, as with easel painting.
Just like many other parts in the world, Mexico has adopted some modern techniques like with the existence of street artists depicting popular paintings from Mexico throughout history or original content.
Some of the most prominent painters in this century are:
Mexican handcrafts and folk art, called artesanía in Mexico, is a complex category of items made by hand or in small workshops for utilitarian, decorative, or other purposes. These include ceramics, wall hangings, certain types of paintings, and textiles. Like the more formal arts, artesanía has both indigenous and European roots and is considered a valued part of Mexico's ethnic heritage.
This linking among the arts and cultural identity was most strongly forged by the country's political, intellectual, and artistic elite in the first half of the 20th century, after the Mexican Revolution. Artists such as Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and Frida Kahlo used artesanía as inspiration for a number of their murals and other works. Unlike the fine arts, artesanía is created by common people and those of indigenous heritage, who learn their craft through formal or informal apprenticeship. The linking of artesanía and Mexican identity continues through television, movies, and tourism promotion.
Most of the artesanía produced in Mexico consists of ordinary things made for daily use. They are considered artistic because they contain decorative details or are painted in bright colors, or both. The bold use of colors in crafts and other constructions extends back to pre-Hispanic times. These were joined by other colors introduced by European and Asian contact, always in bold tones.
Design motifs vary from purely indigenous to mostly European with other elements thrown in. Geometric designs connected to Mexico's pre-Hispanic past are prevalent, and items made by the country's remaining purely indigenous communities. Motifs from nature are popular, possibly more so than geometric patterns in both pre-Hispanic and European designs. They are especially prevalent in wall-hangings and ceramics.
One of the best of Mexico's handcrafts is Talavera pottery produced in Puebla. It has a mix of Chinese, Arab, Spanish, and indigenous design influences. The best known folk paintings are the ex-voto or retablo votive paintings. These are small commemorative paintings or other artwork created by a believer, honoring the intervention of a saint or other figure. The untrained style of ex-voto painting was appropriated during the mid-20th century by Kahlo, who believed they were the most authentic expression of Latin American art.
Cinematography came to Mexico during the Mexican Revolution from the U.S. and France. It was initially used to document the battles of the war. Revolutionary general Pancho Villa himself starred in some silent films. In 2003, HBO broadcast And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, with Antonio Banderas as Villa; the film focuses on the making of the film The Life of General Villa. Villa consciously used cinema to shape his public image.
The first sound film in Mexico was made in 1931, called Desde Santa. The first Mexican film genre appeared between 1920 and 1940, called ranchero.
While Mexico's Golden Age of Cinema is regarded as the 1940s and 1950s, two films from the mid to late 1930s, Allá en el Rancho Grande (1936) and Vamanos con Pancho Villa (1935), set the standard of this age thematically, aesthetically, and ideologically. These films featured archetypal star figures and symbols based on broad national mythologies. Some of the mythology according to Carlos Monsiváis, includes the participants in family melodramas, the masculine charros of ranchero films, femme fatales (often played by María Félix and Dolores del Río), the indigenous peoples of Emilio Fernández’s films, and Cantinflas’s peladito (urban miscreant).
Settings were often ranches, the battlefields of the Revolution, and cabarets. Movies about the Mexican Revolution focused on the initial overthrow of the Porfirio Díaz government rather than the fighting among the various factions afterwards. They also tended to focus on rural themes as “Mexican”, even though the population was increasingly urban.
Mexico had two advantages in filmmaking during this period. The first was a generation of talented actors and filmmakers. These included actors such as María Félix, Jorge Negrete, Pedro Armendáriz, Pedro Infante, Cantinflas, and directors such as Emilio “El Indio” Fernandez and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. Many of these starts had success in the United States and at the Cannes Film Festival . On the corner of La Brea and Hollywood Boulevard, there is a sculpture of four women who represent the four pillars of the cinema industry, one of whom is Mexican actress Dolores del Rio . Gabriel Figueroa is known for black-and-white camerawork that is generally stark and expressionist, with simple but sophisticated camera movement. The second advantage was that Mexico was not heavily involved in the Second World War, and therefore had a greater supply of celluloid for films, then also used for bombs.
In the 1930s, the government became interested in the industry in order to promote cultural and political values. Much of the production during the Golden Age was financed with a mix of public and private money, with the government eventually taking a larger role. In 1942 the Banco Cinematográfico financed almost all of the industry, coming under government control by 1947. This gave the government extensive censorship rights through deciding which projects to finance. While the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) censored films in many ways in the 1940s and 1950s, it was not as repressive as other Spanish speaking countries, but it played a strong role in how Mexico's government and culture was portrayed.
The Golden Age ended in the late 1950s, with the 1960s dominated by poorly made imitations of Hollywood westerns and comedies. These films were increasingly shot outdoors and popular films featured stars from lucha libre. Art and experimental film production in Mexico has its roots in the same period, which began to bear fruit in the 1970s. Director Paul Leduc surfaced in the 1970s, specializing in films without dialogue. His first major success was with Reed: Insurgent Mexico (1971) followed by a biography of Frida Kahlo called Frida (1984). He is the most consistently political of modern Mexican directors. In the 1990s, he filmed Latino Bar (1991) and Dollar Mambo (1993). His silent films generally have not had commercial success.
In the late 20th century the main proponent of Mexican art cinema was Arturo Ripstein Jr.. His career began with a spaghetti Western-like film called Tiempo de morir in 1965 and who some consider the successor to Luis Buñuel who worked in Mexico in the 1940s. Some of his classic films include El Castillo de la pureza (1973), Lugar sin limites (1977) and La reina de la noche (1994) exploring topics such as family ties and even homosexuality, dealing in cruelty, irony, and tragedy. State censorship was relatively lax in the 1960s and early 1970s, but came back during the latter 1970s and 1980s, monopolizing production and distribution.
Another factor was that many Mexican film making facilities were taken over by Hollywood production companies in the 1980s, crowding out local production. The quality of films was so diminished that for some of these years, Mexico's Ariel film award was suspended for lack of qualifying candidates. Popular filmmaking decreased but the art sector grew, sometimes producing works outside the view of censors such as Jorge Fons’ 1989 film Rojo Amanecer on the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre. The movie was banned by the government but received support in Mexico and abroad. The film was shown although not widely. It was the beginning of more editorial freedom for filmmakers in Mexico.
Starting in the 1990s, Mexican cinema began to make a comeback, mostly through co-production with foreign interests. One reason for international interest in Mexican cinema was the wild success of the 1992 film Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). In 1993, this film was the largest grossing foreign language film in U.S. history and ran in a total of 34 countries. Since then, Mexican film divided into two genres. Those for a more domestic audience tend to be more personal and more ambiguously political such as Pueblo de Madera, La Vida Conjugal, and Angel de fuego. Those geared for international audiences have more stereotypical Mexican images and include Solo con tu Pareja, La Invencion de Cronos along with Como Agua para Chocolate.
Mexico's newest generation of successful directors includes Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo del Toro, and Alfonso Cuarón. Films include Cuarón/Children of Men filmed in England and El Laberinto del Fauno, which was a Mexican/Spanish production. Film professionals in the early 21st century tend to be at least bilingual (Spanish and English) and are better able to participate in the global market for films than their predecessors.
Photography came to Mexico in the form of daguerreotype about six months after its discovery, and it spread quickly. It was initially used for portraits of the wealthy (because of its high cost), and for shooting landscapes and pre-Hispanic ruins. Another relatively common type of early photographic portraits were those of recently deceased children, called little angels, which persisted into the first half of the 20th century. This custom derived from a Catholic tradition of celebrating a dead child's immediate acceptance into heaven, bypassing purgatory. This photography replaced the practice of making drawings and other depictions of them as this was considered a “happy occasion.” Formal portraits were the most common form of commercial photography through the end of the 19th century.
Modern photography in Mexico did not begin as an art form, but rather as documentation, associated with periodicals and government projects. It dates to the Porfirio Díaz period of rule, or the Porfiriato, from the late 19th century to 1910. Porfirian-era photography was heavily inclined toward the presentation of the nation's modernization to the rest of the world, with Mexico City as its cultural showpiece. This image was European-based with some indigenous elements for distinction.
Stylized images of the indigenous during the Porfirato were principally done by Ybañez y Sora in the costumbrista painting style, which was popular outside of Mexico. The most important Porfirian era photographer was Guillermo Kahlo, who worked with associate Hugo Brehme. Kahlo established his own studio in the first decade of the 1900s and was hired by businesses and the government to document architecture, interiors, landscapes, and factories.
Kahlo's style reflected the narratives of the period, solely focusing on major constructions and events, and avoiding the common populace. It avoided subjects that hinted at the political instability of the country at the time, such as strike actions. One major Kahlo project was the Photographic Inventory of Spanish Colonial Church Architecture in Mexico (1910), which consisted of twenty five albums sponsored by the federal government to document the remaining colonial architecture. Kahlo's photography was used to link Mexico's past to its progress with political and social power provided in symbols and ideals, as well to link the government's aspirations with its colonial and pre-Hispanic past.
Another pioneer of Mexican photography was Agustín Victor Casasola. Like Kahlo, he began his career in the Porfirato, but his career was focused on photography for periodicals. Again like Kahlo, Casasola's work prior to the Mexican Revolution focused on non-controversial photographs, focusing on the lives of the elite. The outbreak of civil war caused Casasola's choice of subject to change. He began to focus not only on portraits of the main protagonists (such as Francisco Villa) and general battle scenes, but on executions and the dead. He focused on people whose faces showed such expressions as pain, kindness, and resignation.
His work during this time produced a large collection of photographs, many of which are familiar to Mexicans as they have been widely reprinted and reused, often without credit to Casasola. After the war, Casasola continued to photograph common people, especially migrants to Mexico City during the 1920s and 1930s. His total known archives comprise about half a million images with many of his works archived in the former monastery of San Francisco in Pachuca.
Kahlo and Casasola are considered the two most important photographers to develop the medium in Mexico, with Kahlo defining architectural photography and Casasolas establishing photojournalism. Neither man thought of himself as an artist—especially not Casasolas—who thought of himself as a historian in the Positivist tradition, but the photography of both show attention to detail, lighting, and placement of subjects for emotional or dramatic effect.
For the rest of the 20th century, most photography was connected to documentation. However, artistic trends from both inside and outside the country had an effect. In the 1920s, the dominant photographic style was Pictorialism, in which images had a romantic or dream-like quality due to the use of filters and other techniques. American Edward Weston broke with this tradition, taking these effects away for more realistic and detailed images. This caused a split in the photography world between Pictorialists and Realists both inside and outside of Mexico.
Weston and his Italian assistant Tina Modotti were in Mexico from 1923 to 1926, allying themselves with Mexican Realist photographers Manuel Álvarez Bravo as well as muralists such as Gabriel Fernández Ledesma. These photographers' political and social aspirations matched those of the muralist movement and the new post-Revolution government. Mariana Yampolsky, originally from the U.S., became an important photographer in Mexico. Photography and other arts shifted to depictions of the country's indigenous heritage and the glorification of the Mexican common people. This was mainly to reject the elitist and heavily European values of the Porfiriato, along with the increasing cultural influence of the United States in favor of an “authentic” and distinct Mexican identity. Another was the government's decision to use this imagery, rather than the still-fresh memories of the battles and atrocities of the Revolution to promote itself.
Manuel Alvarez Bravo experimented with abstraction in his photography and formed his own personal style concerned with Mexican rites and customs. He was active from the 1920s until his death in the 1990s. Like other artists of the 20th century, he was concerned with balancing international artistic trends with the expression of Mexican culture and people. His photographic techniques were concerned with transforming the ordinary into the fantastic. From the end of the 1930s to the 1970s his photography developed along with new technologies such as color, using the same themes. In the 1970s, he experimented with female nudes.
These post-Revolution photographers influenced the generations after them, but the emphasis remained on documentary journalism, especially for newspapers. For this reason, the focus remained on social issues. This included work by Nacho López and Hector Garcia, best known for their photography of the student uprising of 1968.
During the 1970s, a fusion of various styles retained a social focus. During the same period, institutions were established that dedicated themselves to the promotion of photography and conservation of photographs, such as the Centro de la Imagen, the Fototeca Nacional del INAH, and the publication Luna Córnea.
Photography in Mexico from the latter 20th century on remains mostly focused on photojournalism and other kinds of documentary. Francisco Mata de Rosas is considered the most notable photographer in contemporary Mexico mostly working with documentaries. He has published a number of books including México Tenochtitlan and Tepito, Bravo el Barrio. Eniac Martínez specializes in panoramas. Patricia Aridjis works with social themes, mostly to illustrate books. Gerardo Montiel Klint's work has been described as a “shadowing and dark world”, focusing on the angst and violence of adolescents. The most recent generation of photographers work with new and digital technologies. One of these is Javier Orozco who specializes in interiors.
However, purely artistic photography has had an impact. In 2002, a photographic exhibit by Daniela Rossell featured images of Mexican multimillionaires posing in their ostentatious homes, filled with expensive paintings, hunting trophies, crystal chandeliers, gold lamé wallpaper, and household help. The photographs set off a wave of social criticism as well as tabloid gossip.
This expression eloquently encapsulates the painters' pride in their own tradition and their connection to larger, transatlantic trends.
The Academy of San Carlos (Spanish: Academia de San Carlos) is located at 22 Academia Street in just northeast of the main plaza of Mexico City. It was the first major art academy and the first art museum in the Americas. It was founded in 1781 as the School of Engraving and moved to the Academia Street location about 10 years later. It emphasized classical European training until the early 20th century, when it shifted to a more modern perspective. At this time, it also integrated with the National Autonomous University of Mexico, eventually becoming the Faculty of Arts and Design, which is based in Xochimilco. Currently, only graduate courses of the modern school are given in the original academy building.Alfeñique
An alfeñique is a confection molded from sugar paste. The design and construction of these figures can vary from region to region. Today, alfeñique figures, especially calaveras (known in the US as Sugar Skulls), are widely created in Mexico for the Day of the Dead celebrations in November.Barro negro pottery
Barro negro pottery ("black clay") is a style of pottery from Oaxaca, Mexico, distinguished by its color, sheen and unique designs. Oaxaca is one of few Mexican states which is characterized by the continuance of its ancestral crafts, which are still used in everyday life. Barro negro is one of several pottery traditions in the state, which also include the glazed green pieces of Santa María Atzompa; however, barro negro is one of the best known and most identified with the state. It is also one of the most popular and appreciated styles of pottery in Mexico. The origins of this pottery style extends as far back as the Monte Alban period and for almost all of this pottery's history, had been available only in a grayish matte finish. In the 1950s, a potter named Doña Rosa devised a way to put a black metallic like sheen onto the pottery by polishing it before firing. This look has made the pottery far more popular. From the 1980s to the present, an artisan named Carlomagno Pedro Martínez has promoted items made this way with barro negro sculptures which have been exhibited in a number of countries.Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado "La Esmeralda"
La Esmeralda - National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking (Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado. ENPEG "La Esmeralda") is a Mexican art school located in Mexico City.
The history of the ENPEG started with the foundation of a sculpture and wood carving school in the former La Merced Cloister (Exconvento de la Merced) in the Historic center of Mexico City by Guillermo Ruiz in 1927. In the 1930s, the school moved to the alley Callejón de la Esmeralda (now Calle San Fernando), Colonia Guerrero, which gave it the name "La Esmeralda". Also Raúl Anguiano, Feliciano Peña and José Chávez Morado taught in Ruiz' school. In 1943 Antonio M. Ruiz became head of the seemingly provisorily school. He redesigned the building, separated the training in classes and developed the first curriculum, which achieved certification by the Secretaría de Educación Pública in 1943 accompanied by the official status of an art school. Notable teachers at this time were Diego Rivera, Francisco Zúñiga, Frida Kahlo, Carlos Orozco Romero, Federico Cantú, Luis Ortiz Monasterio, María Izquierdo and Agustín Lazo. In 1994 "La Esmeralda" moved from Colonia Guerrero to Centro Nacional de las Artes (National Center for Arts).Huichol art
Huichol art broadly groups the most traditional and most recent innovations in the folk art and handcrafts produced by the Huichol people, who live in the states of Jalisco, Durango, Zacatecas and Nayarit in Mexico. The unifying factor of the work is the colorful decoration using symbols and designs which date back centuries. The most common and commercially successful products are "yarn paintings" and objects decorated with small commercially produced beads. Yarn paintings consist of commercial yarn pressed into boards coated with wax and resin and are derived from a ceremonial tablet called a neirika. The Huichol have a long history of beading, making the beads from clay, shells, corals, seeds and more and using them to make jewelry and to decorate bowls and other items. The "modern" beadwork usually consists of masks and wood sculptures covered in small, brightly colored commercial beads fastened with wax and resin.
While the materials have changed and the purpose of many of the items have changed from religious to commercial purposes, the designs have changed little, and many retain their religious and symbolic significance. Most outsiders experience Huichol art as tourists in areas such as Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, without knowing anything about the people who make the items, and the meanings of the designs. There are some notable Huichol artists in the yarn painting and beadwork fields, and both types of work have been commissioned for public display.La Calavera Catrina
La Calavera Catrina ('Dapper Skeleton', 'Elegant Skull') or Catrina La Calavera Garbancera is a 1910–1913 zinc etching by the Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada. She is offered as a satirical portrait of those Mexican natives who, Posada felt, were aspiring to adopt European aristocratic traditions in the pre-revolution era. La Catrina has become an icon of the Mexican Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
The zinc etching depicts a female skeleton dressed only in a hat, her chapeau en attende is related to European styles of the early 20th century. The original leaflet describes a person who was ashamed of their indigenous origins and dressed imitating the French style while wearing lots of makeup to make their skin look whiter. This description also uses the word garbancera, a nickname given to people of indigenous ancestry who imitated European style and denied their own cultural heritage.List of museums and cultural institutions in Chicago
The city of Chicago, Illinois has many cultural institutions and museums, large and small. Major cultural institutions include:
the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Goodman Theater, Joffrey Ballet, Central Public Harold Washington Library, and the Chicago Cultural Center, all in the Loop;
Lincoln Park's Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chicago History Museum, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Steppenwolf Theatre;
the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium in the Near South Side's Museum Campus;
the Museum of Science and Industry, Oriental Institute, Smart Museum of Art, and DuSable Museum in Hyde Park;
the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Second City comedy troupe, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Near North Side;
the Garfield Park Conservatory;
and Pilsen's National Museum of Mexican Art;
as well as the Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Botanic Gardens, and Morton Arboretum in nearby suburbs.María Teresa Pomar
María Teresa Pomar was a collector, researcher and promoter of Mexican handcrafts and folk art along with the communities associated with them. She began as a collector then working with museums to promote handcrafts and then working to found a number of museums and other organizations to the same purpose. She became one of Mexico’s foremost experts on the subject, serving as director of different organizations and judge at competitions in Mexico and abroad. She died in 2010 while she was serving as the director of the Museo Universitario de Artes Populares of the University of Colima, which changed its name to honor her.Mexican muralism
Mexican muralism was the promotion of mural painting starting in the 1920s, generally with social and political messages as part of efforts to reunify the country under the post Mexican Revolution government. It was headed by “the big three” painters, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. From the 1920s to about 1970s a large number of murals with nationalistic, social and political messages were created on public buildings, starting a tradition which continues to this day in Mexico and has had impact in other parts of the Americas, including the United States where it served as inspiration for the Chicano art movement.Museo Nacional de Arte
The Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL) (English: National Museum of Art) is the Mexican national art museum, located in the historical center of Mexico City. The museum is housed in a neoclassical building at No. 8 Tacuba, Col. Centro, Mexico City. It includes a large collection representing the history of Mexican art from the mid-sixteenth century to the mid 20th century. It is recognizable by Manuel Tolsá's large equestrian statue of Charles IV of Spain, who was the monarch just before Mexico gained its independence. It was originally in the Zocalo but it was moved to several locations, not out of deference to the king but rather to conserve a piece of art, according to the plaque at the base. It arrived at its present location in 1979.National Museum of Mexican Art
The National Museum of Mexican Art (Formerly known as the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum) is a museum which features Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture. The museum was founded in 1982 by Carlos Tortolero and Helen Valdez. Located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, the current building in Harrison Park opened on March 27, 1987. The museum is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the museum is to display Mexican culture as one sin fronteras (without borders). The museum describes itself as the largest Latino cultural institution in America.National Supreme Court of Justice
The National Supreme Court of Justice (Spanish: Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN) is the Mexican institution serving as the country's federal high court and the spearhead organisation for the judiciary of the Mexican Federal Government. It consists of eleven magistrates, known as ministers of the court, one of whom is designated the court's president.
Judges of the SCJN are appointed for 15 years. They are ratified through affirmation by the Senate from a list proposed by the President of the Republic. The ministers chosen will select from among themselves who shall be the President of the Court to serve a four-year period; any given minister may serve out more than one term as president, but may not do so consecutively.Piteado
Piteado is an artisan technique where pita or ixtle (thread made from the fiber of the century plant) is embroidered onto leather in decorative patterns. The technique is used to make belts, sandals, hair bands, saddles, and other leather accessories. The technique is popular in Mexico and Central America, and typical designs include flowers, animals, charreada, and Pre-Hispanic symbols.
Jalisco, a Mexican State was famous for this type of handicraft, especially the town of Colotlan. This region has become a big producer of two kinds of non-traditional piteado industry. One which uses automated manufacturing embroidery machines to make imitation piteado products and one where non-precious silvery and golden wires are inserted in leather works which are then fraudulently traded as genuine gold and silver.
The piteado work is a traditional art craft made by hand used in some Mexican Folklore, and has spread to several communities in other Mexican states, including Hidalgo, Guerrero, Veracruz, San Luis Potosi, State of Mexico, Durango, Zacatecas, Guerrero, Michoacán, and Chiapas.
Colotlán a town of Jalisco call itself piteado global capital, because there are many saddlers shops, and piteado dedicated craftsmen as a main source of income for its inhabitants. Each one of those piteado-workshop employs three types of workers, each dedicated to a specialized task: drawers, embroiderers, and punteadores. There is an annual fair in promotion of local piteado artisan's art.
Hand embroidering a belt requires about 48 hours of labor. The kind of cactus thread used to embroidery is produced in Veracruz, Chiapas, and Oaxaca.
Artisans from those regions make well-finished and more elaborate piteado works, but because of the lack of advertising and promotion, it is often not possible for them to sell to their intended market.
There is a foundation which promotes piteado in Veracruz, with branches in Florida and Shanghai, which embraces, supports, and makes contributions of machinery and equipment to communities of artisans. This organization also encourages scientific research to improve the plant from which the cactus fiber is obtained, bringing together the communities involved. They connect farmers from northern Oaxaca with biochemical and agricultural researchers in the Guatemalan region of Mesaltenango, supporting the experimental designs of some new products, giving resources and support to those potential artisans with great innovative creations, and continuing to preserve these natural non-renewable resources. The group encourages the improvement of the process of manufacturing some traditional products already on the market, the continued propagation of the art form, and the preservation of the history behind it.Pulque
Pulque ['pulke] (Classical Nahuatl: metoctli), or octli, is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey (agave) plant. It is traditional to central Mexico, where it has been produced for millennia. It has the color of milk, somewhat viscous consistency and a sour yeast-like taste.The drink's history extends far back into the Mesoamerican period, when it was considered sacred, and its use was limited to certain classes of people. After the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, the drink became secular and its consumption rose. The consumption of pulque reached its peak in the late 19th century. In the 20th century, the drink fell into decline, mostly because of competition from beer, which became more prevalent with the arrival of European immigrants. There are some efforts to revive the drink's popularity through tourism.Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte
The Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte (SNCA; national system of art creators) is a Mexican art association of the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, that was founded per presidential decree of September 3, 1993. Aim is the advancement and acceptance of creative activities as an essential part of national identity and appreciation. The associations contains several notable artists and scientists, who rendered outstanding services by their work to the creative identity of Mexico.
The grant program of the SNCA includes scholarships of the Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (FONCA).Skull art
Indigenous Mexican art celebrates the skeleton and uses it as a regular motif. The use of skulls and skeletons in art originated before the Conquest: The Aztecs excelled in stone sculptures and created striking carvings of their Gods. Coatlicue, the Goddess of earth and death, was portrayed with a necklace of human hearts, hands and a skull pendant. She was imbued with the drama and grandeur necessary to dazzle the subject people and to convey the image of an implacable state. The worship of death involved worship of life, while the skull – symbol of death – was a promise to resurrection. The Aztecs carved skulls in monoliths of lava, and made masks of obsidian and jade. Furthermore, the skull motif was used in decoration. They were molded on pots, traced on scrolls, woven into garments, and formalized into hieroglyphs.Straw painting
Straw paintings are craft objects made by shaping straw into patterns and representational images.
By modeling and playing with straw, people, especially women, started weaving straw into artistic objects. As time passed, they acquired more skill in working with straw and a century ago, created a very specific art, the art of weaving straw into pictures by using and combining the natural colours and shades of oats, barley, rye, wheat, and other grasses. These "paintings" have become a speciality of China, Mexico, and Subotica in Serbia and its vicinity.Teresa del Conde
Teresa del Conde Pontones (January 12, 1935 – February 16, 2017) was a Mexican art critic and art historian.Textiles of Oaxaca
The state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico has a noteworthy tradition of finely crafted textiles, particularly handmade embroidery and woven goods that frequently use a backstrap loom. Oaxaca is home to several different groups of indigenous peoples, each of which has a distinctive textile tradition.
Most notably present in the Oaxaca state are the Zapotec, Nahua and Mixtec tribes. Each of these groups of indigenous people contributed their own influences on the modern atuendos or “attires” in Oaxaca today. Textiles and particular clothing garments and accessories can tell a lot about the culture in which they were produced. By analyzing the textiles, the technology used to create the garment can be deciphered. Many of the tools used were similar throughout Mexico, however, some tools were more common in specific regions or villages, resulting in many of the similarities in embroidery and patterns. The different garments created in Oaxaca also differ based on the indigenous peoples’ view of the world and their own social structures. For example, a cape-like garment called a Tilma or Las Capa, made of cotton was strictly reserved for members of upper-class. Most textiles made from cotton were used by the upper class because it was a material that was much easier to work with than the usual leaves of plants, thus making the crop a luxury.
Many of the ancient textile and attire traditions from Mexico have disappeared over time with climate change being one of the reasons why. Because many of these antique, traditional styles of dress have become obsolete, they can often only be recreated or analyzed from murals and sculptures that depict the textiles and attire as well as how both were worn. Consequently, as these older textiles and traditional styles became less popular over time, it gave rise to the contemporary indigenous dress that is often seen today; this contemporary dress is known as the Traje de Tehuana. The attires of ancient Mexico still influence the contemporary dress; some of the garments have actually been passed on over time which slight adjustments of textile, materials used, embroidery, patterns etc. The effect of the ancient attire on the contemporary dress is evident through the similarities and purposes of the contemporary styles. In ancient dress, a Tilma, was a part of a man’s dress, usually made of cotton and worn by the upper-class. However, it is evident that in contemporary dress, a Rebozo (also called Sarape or Gabán) is a shawl worn by women and heavily influenced by the Tilma. Many of the key aspects and characteristics of older attire serve as a template for the patterns and embroidery seen in contemporary textiles and garments.
North American art