Mexican Painting

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Mexican Painting.

Pre-Hispanic Era

File:Maya Dresden Codex.jpg
Maya Dresden Codex

Painting is one of the most ancient arts in Mexico. It is said that the oldest paint in America was found in a cave in Baja California. [1]

Aztecs and Mayans, painted on the walls of their temples and tombs. In Mayan culture one may find interesting paintings in Bonampak frescoes. The civilizations of pre-Hispanic Mexico recorded their histories, religious beliefs, and scientific knowledge in books called "codices". [2] A main function of Aztec Art was to express religious and mythical concepts to legitimize the power of the State. This artistic language spoke predominantly through the form of iconographic symbols and metaphors. For example, the image of the eagle symbolized the warrior and the sun at its zenith. Images of serpents were linked to the gods Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, and thus were represented as water or fire serpents, respectively. [3]

Bonampak frescoes

Colonial Era

Virgen de Loreto by Josep Antonio de Ayala

The Baroque style was developed also in New Spain in its Colonial era; although, it incorporated Indian decorative motifs. Religious paintings intended for churches and portraits of aristocrats were the current subject in this Colonial era. From the XVI to the XVIII Century, Mexican painting played an important didactic role; Because the colonists wanted to make a good impression, some of New Spain's finest artists were hired to paint casta cycles. [4] Miguel Cabrera (1695 - 1768), Cristóbal de Villalpando (ca. 1649 - 1714) and Juan Correa (1646 - 1716) are the best-known painters of New Spain. Baltasar Echave Rioja, Luis Juárez, his son José Juárez and José de Ibarra are also remarkable painters.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz by Miguel Cabrera

XIX and early XX Century

The Valley of Mexico

Different European Schools during XIX and XX Century, had influence in Mexican painters. Hermenegildo Bustos, Jose Maria Velasco and Joaquin Clausell are the main figures in this time.

Da. Francisca Valdivia de Chávez e hijos by Hermenegildo Bustos

The two major representative figures of 19th-century Mexican landscape painting, Eugenio Landesio and José María Velasco, met on one of their excursions to the countryside to do outdoor paintings of national landscapes. [5]

Joaquín Clausell is Mexico's best known Impressionist painter.

XX Century

La Gran Galaxia by Rufino Tamayo

Some of the most important figures in this era are: Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Goitia, Frida Kahlo, Juan O'Gorman, Remedios Varo, Gunther Gerzso, Jose Luis Cuevas and Rafael Coronel, as well as Mexico’s great muralists Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Tamayo painted on an easel and his models were the masters of Modern Art, Picasso, Cezanne, and Braque. His subjects, however abstractly treated, were Mexican to the core. [6]

Gunther Gerzso is best known for his geometric abstractions. In painting, Gerzso moved from Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism.

The painting of Frida Kahlo may be classified as Surrealism or Magic Realism.


Alameda Park, detail of mural, 1948.

The Mexican Modernist School (and muralists) abandoned the solemn and detached art of Europe and instead embraced bold New World imagery full of color and human activity. [7] Some remarkable painters of this time are: Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco. Gerardo Murillo (Dr. Atl) is another important painter of this School, but he painted also traditional landscapes and contemporary art experiments.

See also

Marriage of the Virgin (ca. 1620-35) by Luis Juárez

External links

Joaquín Clausell’s study