The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This document is an essay by Rupert Garcia that considers the educational and political potential of two distinct but contemporaneous modes of aesthetic practice—easel painting and muralism— championed by the artists of the School of Paris and the Mexican mural movement, respectively. Garcia suggests that very different sociopolitical climates in Europe and Mexico in the early 20th century occasioned visually and thematically divergent forms of art production, with European artists embracing abstraction and easel painting, while Mexican muralists were drawn to monumental works employing a highly representational style. The essay remarks on the integral participation of artists in the cultural project of the Mexican Revolution, underscoring the notion that these artists were directly engaged in politics in a way that European artists at the time were not. Garcia acknowledges the familiarity of Mexican artists with modern European aesthetic developments and trends at that time. However, Garcia argues that they did not readily embrace these, choosing instead to promote a more distinctly “Mexican” style that was centered on the use of a realist language to depict scenes that critiqued the economic, social, and political realities of life in Mexico at the time. The author focuses in particular on the “Big Three” of the Mexican mural movement—Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—examining the aesthetic and sociopolitical influences that led each to embrace muralism as the medium with the most educative and revolutionary potential.
Rupert Garcia (born 1941) is an artist with a wide-ranging history in the San Francisco Bay Area’s art milieu, including participation in the 1968 San Francisco State University Third World Student Strike, the establishment of the Galeria de la Raza (1970), and became known as one of the founders and masters of the Chicano poster art movement. Beginning with his University of California Berkeley master’s thesis, Garcia has also written extensively on Mexican and Chicano muralism. In this essay, from his dual perspective as an artist and scholar, Garcia refutes the notion that art exists outside history and is devoid of a socio-cultural context, which can thus render it “universal, objective and static.” Using the Mexican muralists as examples, Garcia (among others) made direct links between Mexican and Chicano muralism, especially with regard to its role in addressing social reality and political concerns. This essay was published in a special issue, “Art and Revolution,” of Left Curve Magazine, a leftist, artist-produced journal operating in San Francisco since 1974.