Mexican Muralism was a movement that began in early 1920s in Mexico in which the government commissioned artists to make art that would educate Mexicans about the country’s history and present a powerful vision of its future. The movement was an effort to reunify the country under the post-Mexican Revolution government. From the 1920s to about 1970s many murals with nationalistic, social and political messages were created on public buildings, starting a tradition which continues to this day in Mexico and has had impact in other parts of the America, including the United States, where it served as inspiration for the Chicano art movement.
Inspired by the idealism of the Revolution, artists created epic, politically charged public murals that stressed Mexico’s pre-colonial history and culture and that depicted peasants, workers, and people of mixed Indian-European heritage as the heroes who would forge its future. The movement was strongest from the 1920s to the 1950s, which corresponded to the country’s transformation from a mostly rural and mostly illiterate society to an industrialized one. While today they are part of Mexico’s identity, at that time they were controversial, especially those with socialist messages plastered on centuries-old colonial buildings.
The murals were executed in techniques including fresco, encaustic, mosaic, and relief. The movement was headed by three famous painters, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.