Throughout the history of Mexico, various types of visual art were developed. Over time, the country has been home to many famous artists that practiced a wide variety of art techniques. Mexican art is generally categorized by era, and includes work from the Mesoamerican era, the colonial period, and the period of time after the Mexican War of Independence (this period can be further subdivided). In ancient Mexican times, art was heavily tied to religion, and remained this way until after the country gained independence. Some well known Mexican artists include Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Carlos Merida, in addition to many other talented artists of Mexican descent.
Perhaps one of the most famous Mexican painters, Frida Kahlo was a self portrait artist who is still today considered a feminist icon. During her short life, Frida became injured in a serious bus accident after which she began painting. She eventually became involved in politics and married Diego Rivera, a fellow communist artist. Prior to her death in 1954, Kahlo exhibited her work in both Mexico, and Paris, where she lived for a short time. Since her death, Kahlo has only become more famous. Her blue house was turned into a museum in 1958, there have been books written about her life, and a movie starring Selma Hayek was made about her life. Some of Frida Kahlo’s famous works include:
Diego Rivera was born in 1886 and was a muralist and painter that used his art to reflect the lives of the native and working class people of Mexico. In the 1920s, Rivera created a series of murals on public buildings through a government program. Some of his work during this time was considered controversial and was stopped. Rivera began drawing as a young child and was influenced by such famous artists as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Paul Gaugin. Rivera married fellow Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in 1929, and the two shared an interest in Marxism as well as radical politics. Rivera passed away from heart failure in 1957. Some of Diego Rivera’s most famous murals include:
Jose Clemente Orozco
Jose Clemente Orozco was a famous Mexican painter and illustrator, born in 1883. Orozco helped in leading the revival of Mexican mural painting during the 1920s. His work is often explained as tragic and complex. Orozco had a tragic but ultimately achievement filled life after living through the Mexican Revolution. Jose worked as a caricaturist for a newspaper for several years to make ends meet. It was not until the early 1920s that Orozco began creating murals. His work stood out from other mural painters due to its intensity and focus on the suffering of humans. Jose Clemented Orozco died of heart failure at the age of 65. Some of his most famous works include:
Carlos Merida was actually born in Guatemala but his work was inspired by the social revolution in Mexico. Sadly, his mosaic murals were destroyed in an earthquake in Mexico City in 1985. Merida’s interest in the revolution saw him travel to Mexico where he became involved in what was considered Mexico’s mural painting renaissance. It was during this time that Carlos created some of his best works.
Rufino Tamayo was born in 1899 in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was an artist that focused mainly on paintings, sculptures, and printmaking, and was known for using influences outside of his home country of Mexico. Tamayo was largely self taught as an artist. Today, he has two museums in Mexico named after him. Before his death in 1991, he was acclaimed for his works such as Women of Tehuantepec.
In addition to the painters, muralists, and sculptors discussed above, Mexico is known for many other incredibly talented artists. From ancient art, inspired by religion, the more modern art, Mexico continues to produce incredibly talented artists.
Continue reading about some of Mexico’s most famous artists below.