Murals have been an important medium of public expression in Mexico since the Mexican Revolution, and names such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco will forever be linked with this revolutionary art form. Many people, however, believe that Mexico's renowned mural tradition died with these famous practitioners, and today's mural artists labor in obscurity as many of their creations are destroyed through hostility or neglect.
This book traces the ongoing critical contributions of mural arts to public life in Mexico to show how postrevolutionary murals have been overshadowed both by the Mexican School and by the exclusionary nature of official public arts. By documenting a range of mural practices—from fixed-site murals to mantas (banner murals) to graffiti—Bruce Campbell evaluates the ways in which the practical and aesthetic components of revolutionary Mexican muralism have been appropriated and redeployed within the context of Mexico's ongoing economic and political crisis. Four dozen photographs illustrate the text. Blending ethnography, political science, and sociology with art history, Campbell traces the emergence of modern Mexican mural art as a composite of aesthetic, discursive, and performative elements through which collective interests and identities are shaped.
He focuses on mural activists engaged combatively with the state—in barrios, unions, and street protests—to show that mural arts that are neither connected to the elite art world nor supported by the government have made significant contributions to Mexican culture. Campbell brings all previous studies of Mexican muralism up to date by revealing the wealth of art that has flourished in the shadows of official recognition. His work shows that interpretations by art historians preoccupied with contemporary high art have been incomplete—and that a rich mural tradition still survives, and thrives, in Mexico.