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How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican Stateby Mary K Coffey
Synopses & Reviews
A public art movement initiated by the postrevolutionary state, Mexican muralism has long been admired for its depictions of popular struggle and social justice. Mary K. Coffey revises traditional accounts of Mexican muralism by describing how a radical art movement was transformed into official culture, ultimately becoming a tool of state propaganda. Analyzing the incorporation of mural art into Mexico's most important public museumsandmdash;the Palace of Fine Arts, the National History Museum, and the National Anthropology Museumandmdash;Coffey illuminates the institutionalization of muralism and the political and aesthetic issues it raised. She focuses on the period between 1934, when Josandeacute; Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera were commissioned to create murals in the Palace of Fine Arts, through the crisis of state authority in the 1960s. Coffey highlights a reciprocal relationship between Mexico's mural art and its museums. Muralism shaped exhibition practices, which affected the politics, aesthetics, and reception of mural art. Interpreting the iconography of Mexico's murals, she focuses on representations of mestizo identity, the preeminent symbol of postrevolutionary Mexico. Coffey argues that those gendered representations reveal a national culture project more invested in race and gender inequality than in race and class equality.
Traces the transformation of Mexican mural art from an experimental art form into an effective tool of state propaganda through an examination of key murals by Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
This is a study of the reciprocal relationship between Mexican muralism and the three major Mexican museumsand#8212;the Palace of Fine Arts, the National History Museum, and the National Anthropology Museum.
About the Author
Mary K. Coffey is Associate Professor of Art History at Dartmouth College.
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