Painting the Revolution: State, Politics and Ideology in Mexican Muralism

Carter, Warren (2014). Painting the Revolution: State, Politics and Ideology in Mexican Muralism. Third Text, 28(3) pp. 282–291.



The most recent revisionist accounts of Mexican muralism – and in particular that provided by Leonard Folgarait – have read the murals produced by los tres grandes – Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros – through a Foucauldian prism based upon a Poulantzian theory of the state. Eliding the concept of human agency and its complicated relationship to state patronage, these interpretations read off the imperatives of state ideology into the various murals sponsored by successive post-revolutionary governments. Consequently, the muralists become unreflexive agents of counter-revolution, and the political differences between them, and between them and the post-revolutionary governments that patronized them, largely insignificant. Following the suggestive readings of Meyer Schapiro and David Craven, the author introduces a more complex theory of the Mexican state into an analysis of the murals that it sponsored to allow for a far more differentiated and nuanced reading that properly contextualizes this important political medium as a site of active struggle.

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