Visitors to London this summer have been treated to an excellent exhibition at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly that has come from the historical heart of Mexico City
Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 in the Sackler Wing of the Royal Academy has been introducing the work of a variety of Mexican artists including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and José Clemente Orozco, each of whom played their own important role in the artistic community that thrived in the years following the revolution of 1910.
The new government, keen to promote its views without gunfire, established a sponsored community of artists who would help present the new Mexico to the world. But it wasn’t just Mexican artists who benefited from the new regime. Partly drawn by the state sponsorship and partly by the political climate, artists such as Edward Burra, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Josef Abers flocked to the country under the control of the socialist Partido Revolucionario Nacional.
This partnership between the artistic community and the government especially gave rise to a Mexican muralism which soon became recognised all over the world during this period of cultural renaissance.
The exhibition ends in London on 29 September but in Mexico City you can see many more works of art by these artists (especialy several excellent pieces by Rivera) at The Palacio Nacional. The National Palace is a working government building but much of it is open to visitors and you can even pick up an independent guide by the northern entrance who will give you a tour of this impressive baroque-fronted building.
If you are a fan of Rivera you should also head to the Centro Histórico – the historial centre of the city – where you will find over 100 works at the Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP).These are smaller and less spectacular pieces than the huge murals at the Palacio but are certainly none the less interesting or powerful for that.
Fans of Orozco, on the other hand, should visit the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria where there are three floors dedicated to his work.
Of course if you can make it to London before the end of September, all well and good, otherwise there is nothing for it but to visit Mexico City and discover the cultural riches which lay waiting to be discovered in it museums, galleries and public buildings.
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