Chronology MMoCA Collects


Mexican Modernism (1920–1940)

Mexican modernism refers to a vital period of artistic achievement during the 1920s and 1930s. Mexico City was a significant hub of activities that played host to an international gathering of writers, photographers, and artists. It was Mexican painters, photographers, and printmakers, however, who dominated the art scene.

Following the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1917 and under intermittent state sponsorship, artists created a public art that celebrated the nation's native history and socialist values. The most famous artists of the period—José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Siqueiros—were known as Los Tres Grandes (The Three Greats). They initiated a tradition of mural painting that achieved renown in their own country and also in commissions elsewhere, notably the United States. In a parallel development, printmaking flourished in the Taller Grafica Popular (The Peoples' Graphic Workshop) to produce compassionate images of the lives of metizoes—the indigenous peasants of the countryside.

Mexican modernism reflected a search in other western countries for a realist art that championed social reform and national identity (see American Scene Painting). It also embraced, most especially in the art of the painter Frida Kahlo, the ideals of Surrealism, then the most important avant-garde movement in Europe.