Mexican art and architecture: Independence, Empire, and Revolution

Toward the end of the 19th cent. the political broadside became a popular and pungent native art. José Guadalupe Posada was famous for his satirical prints. With the coming of independence, architecture went into a general decline, but wealthy creoles were responsible for the erection of a profusion of luxurious mansions, some of them of great beauty.

In the latter half of the 19th cent., during the ill-starred regime (1864–67) of Emperor Maximilian, the heavy splendor of French Second Empire architecture was imported into Mexico. The famous gardens and castle at Chapultepec were beautified by the emperor and made even more lavish by the dictator Porfirio Díaz, under whose administration (1876–1911) the French accent became stronger, especially in the mansions along the famous Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. The influence of art nouveau is evident in the portentous and elaborately decorated Palacio de Bellas Artes, also commissioned by Díaz but not completed until 1930.

After the revolution of 1910 Mexican artists enjoyed unusually strong government patronage and were, as a result, committed principally to the expression of revolutionary ideals. The foremost were muralists employing broad techniques in the service of their political and social themes. The three internationally acclaimed painters Diego Rivera , José Clemente Orozco , and David Alfaro Siqueiros produced masterpieces of mural art and initiated a revival of fresco painting. Miguel Covarrubias attained international fame as a caricaturist and illustrator, and Dr. Atl (pseud. of Gerardo Murillo) was influential as a teacher and art critic as well as a painter. Francisco Goita was noted for his paintings stressing the hardships of Native American peasant existence.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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