Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this essay, art historian Shifra M. Goldman addresses Chicano mural art in the United States, which began as an independent movement around 1970. Goldman discusses the influences of Mexican muralism, especially that of Los Tres Grandes, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, on Chicano mural art and how it differed from its sources in both technique and content. According to her, among the major points of difference between both mural movements is that Chicano muralists often applied easel painting techniques to their murals, not fully understanding that a mural is not simply an enlarged easel painting. According to Goldman, another important difference between both movements is that while Mexican muralism was aimed at a larger, national audience, Chicano muralism remained more localized, taking advantage of regional iconography and symbolism. Goldman briefly addresses the art of the following three Chicano muralists: Marcos Raya (Chicago, Illinois), Gil Hernandez and Charles (Carlos) Almaraz (both from Los Angeles, California).

Annotations

Shifra M. Goldman (1926–2011) was a Los Angeles art historian and scholar who wrote extensively about Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and artists. She was a strong advocate of Chicano art, using her knowledge of Mexican artists (especially muralists) to provide a framework for the inclusion of Chicano artists within a broader art history. In this essay for the Mexican publication, Artes Visuales, Goldman provides a brief description of Chicano muralism and its historical and iconographic influences from Mexican muralists. There are gaps however in her assessment of the differences between Mexican and Chicano muralists, specifically in their intent, financial support, and location of murals, as well as in her statement regarding Chicano artists’ lack of mural training (such as Judy Baca’s background at the Siqueiros’ workshop). While also reductive in its depiction of barrios as well as Chicanos socioeconomic conditions, the essay provides valuable documentation of the early phase of the Chicano muralism and muralists functioning as an informative introduction to the intended Mexican audience. For the Spanish version of this document see record #803216.

Researcher
Tere Romo
Team
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Credit
Courtesy of Eric Garcia, POA Shifra Goldman, North Hollywood, CA
Courtesy of Arte Público Press, University of Houston, Houston, TX