In this free course, Art and the Mexican Revolution, you have explored the significance of a key mural produced by Diego Rivera within the post-revolutionary period after 1920, when art was deployed by successive bourgeois governments to win over the radicalised peasantry and emergent working-class to their less than radical reform agenda. In this way you have been introduced to different and competing interpretations of how this art has been understood within these broader social and political contexts.
After looking at the art historical concepts of ‘realism’ and ‘modernism’ in relation to Rivera’s History of Mexico you then looked at how his murals north of the border were part of a more complex negotiation between the United States and Mexico over the rights to subsoil resources such as oil. You then finished with a brief analysis of Frida Kahlo’s more subjectively orientated oil painting, as a counterpoint to the monumental murals of her husband, and how the example of Mexican muralism lived on as a strategy for producing a stridently didactic art from the 1930s through to the present.
In this way, hopefully this course has given you a sense of the extent to which painting, and the history of art more generally, are not ideologically neutral but instead subjects in which interpretations are continuously contested and fought over.
This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course.