Exhibition: Revolution on Paper: Mexican Prints 1910-1960, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, until August 13 2011
© Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera and Frido Kahlo Museums Trust
The first Mexican socialist revolution, between 1910 and 1920, produced a left-wing government who promoted their revolution through art, bathing public buildings in vast murals and rattling out heart and mind-winning propaganda from print workshops. Triumvirate Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros – known as “los tres grandes” – made some of the best of these iconic inkings, and their works testify to a cataclysmic period in South American social history as well as forming powerful pieces of art in their own aesthetic right.
“The focus on a major historical revolution seems very timely in the light of current world events,” says curator Emily Marsden. “These are images from one of the 20th century’s most vibrant artistic cultures, but one which is still relatively unknown outside Mexico.” Many of them are held by the British Museum, which has loaned prints including Rivera’s Emiliano Zapata and his Horse, an enduringly popular depiction of one of the leaders of the revolution a decade after his death.
The founding of the Taller de Gráfica Popular group, in 1937, also ensured these political printmakers enjoyed increasing prominence. Founded as a Communist graphic arts workshop, it took inspiration from earlier artists such as José Guadalupe Posada, the archetype who introduced the now-familiar images of macabre dancing skeletons. Posada hit his prolific peak at the turn of the century, and the earliest movement arrived in 1921 in the form of Stridentism, an avant-garde group with a disdainful attitude towards the past which made it comparable with Futurism.
Their fiery works fearlessly take on corruption, capitalism and fascism through large posters, woodcut, lithography and illustrations, channelling the vigour of a group whose continued existence symbolises a passion which will never die.
- Open 10am-5pm (except Sunday). Admission free.