Presentation on theme: "The Mexican Revolution: Intellectuals and the Arts Daniel W. Blackmon IB HL History of the Americas Coral Gables Senior High."— Presentation transcript:
The Mexican Revolution: Intellectuals and the Arts Daniel W. Blackmon IB HL History of the Americas Coral Gables Senior High
Full Disclosure It will be quite obvious to you that I did what I tell you not to do: string a lot of quotations together without much in the way of commentary. Art history is well outside my comfort zone, and I did not think I could improve on what my sources had written.
Background José Vasconcelos
“During the last year of the Porfiriato a group of young thinkers had banded together to form the Ateneo de la Juventud. Among its charter members were a small group that would come to dominate early revolutionary thought: Antonio Caso, Alfonso Reyes, José Vasconcelos, and Martin Luis Guzman.
José Vasconcelos “Meeting fort-nightly, the members of the Ateneo began to formulate a philosophical assault on materialism in general and on positivism in particular. Impressed with Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer, but most especially with Henri Bergson's masterpiece L'Evolution creatrice (1907), they lashed out against the cientificos and launched a movement for ideological and educational reform based on a healthy respect for the humanities. “(Meyers 561)
José Vasconcelos “Late in the Porfiriato his antipositivist rebellion led him to join the Ateneo de la Juventud, and he shortly distinguished himself as one of the most brilliant minds in Mexico. An enthusiastic supporter of Francisco Madero, he became a Constitutionalist at the time of Huerta's coup and subsequently served in Eulalio Gutierrez's Convention government.
José Vasconcelos “With the flight of Carranza from Mexico City in 1920, Vasconcelos briefly served as rector of the National University, but Obregon wanted him in the cabinet and he accepted the portfolio of education shortly after Obregon's inauguration.” (Meyers 564)
José Vasconcelos “To implement Article 3 Obregon named José Vasconcelos, one of Mexico's most illustrious men of letters, to be secretary of education.” (Meyers 564)
José Vasconcelos “Vasconcelos had to inspire the teachers with a deep sense of national mission because life in rural Mexico, for many of them, was a type of cultural exile. Some of the villages were a two- or three-days' ride by horseback from the nearest railroad station, most lacked electricity, and few amenities of the comfortable life were to be found.
José Vasconcelos “In addition, the new teachers were not always welcomed with open arms. They often encountered deep hostility from villagers who did not want to change their traditional ways and from local priests who resented government encroachments into what they considered a church preserve. But the teachers did go into the hamlets and labored with dedication. Children attended during the day, while many adults consented to attend classes at night.
José Vasconcelos “Vasconcelos's plan was designed not to segregate the Indian but through education to incorporate him into the mainstream of mestizo society. Vasconcelos would subsequently undergo a tremendous intellectual volte-face, but at this time he called for the incorporation of the Indians into a raza cósmica.” (Meyers )
José Vasconcelos “Vasconcelos believed in the utility of informal education as well and employed some of Mexico's leading artists-Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros-to begin ornamenting the walls of public buildings with murals.
José Vasconcelos “The murals were designed for the people rather than for the art critics, but they received world acclaim as well. The themes were anthropological and historical for the most part and, with no shortage of polemicism, sought to instruct the literate and illiterate alike in the truths that the Revolution had come to hold dear. (Meyers 574)
José Vasconcelos “While secretary of education, José Vasconcelos commissioned leading artists to fill the walls of public buildings with didactic murals, and Mexico's artistic renaissance occurred in the process. Art was no longer directed to the privileged few who could afford to buy a canvas; it was for the public.” (Meyers 614)
José Vasconcelos “Vasconcelos, while supplying the government subsidy, was too much the free intellectual to place any constraints on the artists. Coordinating his efforts with the artists' union, the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors, he instructed the artist simply to paint Mexican subjects.” (Meyers 615
Revolutionary Art “Mexican culture during the period 1920 to 1940 came to the service of the Revolution. The artistic, literary, and scholarly communities, with an abiding faith in the new thrust of Mexican life, supported revolutionary ideals by contributing their unique talents to awakening the consciousness of the new social order.” (Meyers 614)
Revolutionary Art “The murals painted by Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros during the 1920S can be divided into two groups. The first consists of work commissioned by Vasconcelos and completed before the end of his term of office in 1924, and which seem to mirror the ideological and aesthetic framework of his own particular philosophical vision.
Revolutionary Art “The second group are works - some of which were commissioned by Vasconcelos and even executed, during his tenure as Minister of Education - with themes and styles that moved away from his vision towards a more overtly didactic, political and populist art, with which the Mexican mural movement has come to be popularly associated.” (Rhodes 33)
Revolutionary Art “[I]t was conceived as a popular art, for a people, to cite Diego Rivera, untrained in looking at objects of art. The artist had to provide an understandable art, interesting at first sight. Besides being an art for the people, it was also an epic art, which dealt with momentous themes and controversial topics. Orozco, Rivera, and David Siqueiros, the "Big Three," were its masters.” ( Ruiz 365)
Revolutionary Art “When talented painters like Orozco and Rivera did not have to depend for their livelihood on the sale of their art to burgueses, channels previously closed were opened to them. No longer captives of the tastes of private buyers, artists were free to experiment, to paint in novel fashion.
Revolutionary Art “Not dependent on the goodwill of the rich, they could refuse to paint a wealthy Mexican's wife or mistress, the horizons of their art liberated from the dictates of critics in the European mold.” (Ruiz 366)
Revolutionary Art “The Syndicate [ of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors] was also important in that it became the vehicle for the manifesto on mural painting issued by the painters, and for its production of the union newspaper El Machete. The paper was edited by Siqueiros and Guerrero, and they and Rivera wrote articles for it, while Orozco produced some memorable cartoons
Siqueiros: Trinity of the Leeches
Revolutionary Art “The Syndicate's manifesto was drawn up by Siqueiros in 1922 and launched on 9 December 1923 in response to Adolfo de la Huerta's coup against the Obregon government. It was published in 1924 in the seventh issue of El Machete and was signed by the large majority of tl mural artists. Its opening preamble declared:
Revolutionary Art “The Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors directs tself to the native races humiliated for centuries; to the soldiers made into hangmen by their officers; to the workers and peasants scourged by the rich; and to the intellectuals who do not flatter the bourgeoisie
Revolutionary Art “Further on, the manifesto explicitly outlined its artistic and aesthetic principles and goals:
Revolutionary Art “ )“our fundamental aesthetic goal must be to socialize artistic expression and wipe out bourgeois individualism.
Revolutionary Art “ )“We repudiate so-called easel painting and every kind of art favoured by ultra-intellectual circles, because it is aristocratic, and we praise monumental art in all its forms, because it is public property.
Revolutionary Art “ )“We proclaim that at this time of social change from a decrepit order to a new one, the creators of beauty must use their best efforts to produce ideological works of art for the people; art must no longer be the expression of individual satisfaction which it is today, but should aim to become a fighting, educative art for all. “ (Rhodes 39)
Dr. Atl “The new director, Dr. Atl (Gerardo Murillo), was even less conventional than his predecessor. Politically a loyal Carrancista but artistically a free spirit, Dr. Atl wanted to convert the academy into a popular workshop for the development of the arts and crafts.
Dr. Atl “But when Pancho Villa marched his army into Mexico City following the Convention of Aguascalientes, the director and his loyal students, including José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, fled to Orizaba.” (Meyers 564)
Dr. Atl “But it was Gerardo Murillo, the artist most responsible for the muralist outburst, who offered the classic answer, thus winning for himself a niche in "revolutionary" circles. For Murillo, or Dr. Atl, as he titled himself, the Revolution held the secret to the renaissance.
Dr. Atl “It was, to start, an anticlerical crusade which acquired a religion of its own, becoming a facsimile of the Counter- Reformation, the mother, as Atl rightly pointed out, of Spanish art.
Dr. Atl “Before 1910, art had been both Spanish and Christian, an architectural art basically, orphaned by the culture that produced it. Imitation was the result. To overcome the cycle of mediocre art, a sharp break with the past was necessary; that rupture, said Atl, must be Mexican and pagan. The Revolution, to Atl, made that possible
Dr. Atl “The Revolution symbolized the struggle for social justice; from it, a spiritual rebirth took shape, conferring importance on the common people, as well as rediscovering the Indian and the pre-Hispanic heritage. Indianismo, its philosophical foundation, recognized that the ancients had carved out mighty civilizations where art enjoyed center stage. Unlike Europe, ancient Mexico had "no art for the sake of art," no artistic elite.
Dr. Atl “Quite the opposite: everyone was an artist, while the useful and the beautiful were one and the same. Additionally, folk art, which survived the tastes of Porfiristas, left behind examples for others to emulate, for instance in the murals of the pulquerias, where the poor went to drink; in the retablos of churches, artistic testimonials to miracles; and in the lithographs, namely, the drawings of Jose Guadalupe Posada.
Dr. Atl “Then, there was the inspiration of the popular arts, revived in the 1920S when tourists started to visit Mexico, more and more on the lookout for blankets from Toluca and sarapes from Saltillo; black pottery from Oaxaca; and colorful baskets and huaraches. All of this, Atl concluded, explained the renaissance.” (Ruiz 365)
The Artists Diego Rivera
“Diego Rivera spent most of his time in France and Spain, dabbling with some success in cubism. Siqueiros abandoned the brush for the gun and served in the Carrancista army for several years, storing up penetrating impressions of camp life, battles, and death, all of which he would later recreate. Orozco spent much of his time painting posters and sketching biting political cartoons and caricatures for Carrancista newspapers. “ (Meyers 564)
Diego Rivera “Art has always been employed by the different social classes who hold the balance of power as one instrument of domination––hence, as a political instrument.... What is it then that we really need? An art extremely pure, precise, profoundly human, and clarified as to its purpose.” Diego Rivera, 1929 (Weser)
Diego Rivera “An artist who read and pondered, Rivera, during his travels in Europe, started to wonder why artists separated themselves from the community and to study the history of art, trying to discover how this had come about.
Diego Rivera “Until the European Renaissance, he concluded, the artist was not isolated from society but a craftsman among fellow craftsmen, who taught his neighbors the importance of art and beauty. That was also true for pre-Hispanic artists.
Diego Rivera “The rupture with society occurred during the Renaissance, a break prolonged by the commercial and industrial revolutions, birthplaces of capitalism. At this juncture, easel art, the prerogative of wealthy patrons, came to dominate, when artists catered to the whims of their buyers and became outcasts in society, the pawns of the rich.
Diego Rivera “Rivera's Italian visit, when he saw the murals of Michelangelo and Bonozzo Gozzoli, provided answers to these questions. To integrate the artist into society, Rivera deduced, art, like that of the ancient masters, must be for the people and in union with architecture.
Diego Rivera “As he saw it, the Russian revolution, which had brought the Communists to power, had ended the era of "modern Christian art," which dated from the French Revolution. Socialist Russia opened up a new era, a Marxist world asking artists to give birth to a social art, accessible to the people, nourishing and reforming their tastes. Art must serve the interests of workers and not of burgueses. “ (Ruiz 368)
Diego Rivera “Determined to be a Mexican artist, he made the Indian the centerpiece of his art. Everything of value in Mexico, he insisted, had Indian roots; without the inspiration of the Indian, "we cannot be authentic."
Diego Rivera “Show me, he declared, "one original Hispanic-American... idea and I will... beg forgiveness from the Virgen de Guadalupe." An ideologue who scoffed at the "neutrality of art," Rivera believed "all of it to be propaganda" and, as a fervent nationalist, scorned the burguesia of Latin America, labeling it malinchista, a class fawning on foreigners, the victim of a colonial inferiority complex, warning, time and again, against imitating "whites and blonds," saying it led to feelings of shame for the native. “(Ruiz 368)
Diego Rivera “One of the lessons he sought to teach with his murals was a positive revaluation of Mexico's indigenous culture, for centuries demeaned by a Europhile elite, a goal that echoed Vasconcelos's own promotion of indigenismo.” (Winn 424)
Diego Rivera “[H]e used the Indian as his basic motif. Rivera's realistic murals did not invite freedom of interpretation, and he depicted humanistic messages for the illiterate masses on the walls of the Agricultural School in Chapingo, the Cortes Palace in Cuernavaca, the National Preparatory School, the Department of Education, and the National Palace in Mexico City.
Diego Rivera Spaniard during the colonial period, and his criollo offspring during the nineteenth century, had enslaved the Indian and had kept him in abject poverty. It was now time to incorporate the Indian into the mainstream of society just as Rivera was incorporating him into the mainstream of his murals.” (Meyers )
Rivera: Conversion of the Indians
Rivera: Enslavement of the Indians
Rivera: Constructing the Cortez Palace
Rivera: Alliance of Peasant and Industrial Worker
Rivera: Blood of Revolutinaries Fertilizing the Land
Rivera: Entry Into the Mine
Rivera: Exit From the Mine
Rivera: The Sugar Mill
Rivera: Tehuana Women
Rivera: Night of the Rich
Rivera: Distribution of Arms
Rivera: Death of a Capitalist
Rivera: Partition of the Land
Rivera: Liberation of the Peon
Rivera: The New School
Diego Rivera “Rivera's greatest masterpiece was composed at the Agricultural School at Chapingo, formerly the private hacienda of President Manuel Gonzalez. With esthetic originality and flamboyance, Rivera spelled out his appreciation of the new revolutionary ideology.
Diego Rivera “Not only did his frescoes display the virtues of land redistribution, but they instructed in the lessons of sociopolitical reality. On one wall he portrayed bad government-the peasants betrayed by false politicians, fat capitalists, and mercenary priests.
Diego Rivera “But the opposite wall was one of revolutionary hope-a scene of agricultural cultivation, a rich harvest, and a liberated peasantry. Just in case the message might be lost, he painted over the main stairway of the building, "Here it is taught to exploit the land, not man." “ (Meyers )
The Artists José Clemente Orozco
“Orozco found the atmosphere of the Escuela Nacional stifling. Its director, Antonio Fabres, a Spanish painter hired by Justo Sierra, demanded "photographic exactness" in design and had no interest in things Mexican.
José Clemente Orozco “Fabres looked upon Mexicans as colonial servants, asking them to paint in the style of Spanish art. "It was inconceivable that a wretched Mexican," Orozco recalled in his Autobiografia, "should dream of vying with the world abroad." So the Mexican journeyed abroad to study art, "and if he ever afterward gave a thought to the backward country in which he was born it was only to beg for help in time of need."
José Clemente Orozco “Fortunately, at the Escuela Nacional, Orozco also met Dr. Atl, praising to the heavens Michelangelo and "drawing muscular giants in the violent attitudes of the Sistine." Listening to At!, Orozco confessed, "we began to suspect that the whole colonial situation was nothing but a swindle foisted on us by international traders."
José Clemente Orozco “Mexicans, too, had talent: "We would learn what the ancients and foreigners could teach us, but we could do as much as they, or more." For the first time, Orozco boasted, Mexican artists "took stock of the country they lived in." (Ruiz )
José Clemente Orozco “As the violent decade passed, Orozco abandoned his career as a biting political caricaturist for mural art.” (Meyers 617)
Orozco: Stairwell Mural
Orozco: Peasants Working
Orozco: Basura Social
Orozco: Law and Justice
Orozco: The Trench
Orozco: Destruction of the Old Order
José Clemente Orozco “His famous fresco, Cortes and Malinche, shows two nude and carnal figures sitting over the figure of the old, prostrate Mexico, and represents the miscegenation process, the biological and spiritual origin of the Mexican people. “ (Meyers 618)
José Clemente Orozco “The Cortes and Malinche fresco was the first direct reference by the Mexican muralists to one of the most significant results of Spanish colonialism in Mexico, that of miscegenation or mestizaje of the indigenous population..... This union, however, is seemingly contingent upon Cortez’ subjugation of the Indian, represented in the fresco by a prone and naked figure under the Spaniard’s right foot. “ (Rhodes 44)
Orozco: Cortes and Malinche
José Clemente Orozco “The panel of The Franciscan and the Indian is an image equally infused with ambivalence and synthesis by its act of bringing to the metaphorical foreground the consequences of Catholic imperialism in one of its spiritually most effective endeavours.
José Clemente Orozco “The spiritual 'capture' evoked in the claustrophobic embrace of the naked Indian by the clothed Franciscan, symbol of Spanish Catholicism, is a direct parallel to the physical miscegenation expressed in the image of Cortez and Malinche.
José Clemente Orozco “However, the ambivalence of Orozco's image is expressed here in the implication of salvation and redemption, power and subjugation. It is one that simultaneously summons up the story of Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, and the Requerimiento (The Summons). The former staunchly defended the Indian, arguing that conversion should be by peaceful means and not demanded as a tribute of conquest.' “ ( Rhodes 46)
Orozco: The Franciscan and the Indian
José Clemente Orozco “For the church hierarchy, he had nothing but contempt. He wanted to "desanctify" the religious. On the walls of the Preparatoria, he painted a grotesque Dios Padre (God the Father), surrounded by bureaucratic nuns and clerics who symbolized the intolerance of the church. Just the same, he believed in the proverb of the camel and the needle's eye, enshrining in his murals at the Preparatoria the Franciscan ideal of the poor friar: universal love, habitual wantlessness, and sacrifice, a social philosophy of service and abnegation and key to the salvation of Mexico. Juxtaposed to the Dios Padre, he painted three scenes of monks and Indians; the monks, bent over to embrace the Indian (the poor, the crippled, and the suffering), personified strength, pity, and compassion. “ (Ruiz 372)
Orozco: Conquest of Mexico Two Headed Horse
The Artists David Alfaro Siqueiros
“David Alfaro Siquerios was by far the most politically active of the three Mexican muralists. He was a sophisticated political ideologist who was involved in the political conflicts of the Mexican Revolution serving as a protestor, demonstrator, and soldier. His radical political beliefs eventually got him expelled from Mexico.
David Alfaro Siqueiros “He spent many years in jail for his actions and this influenced his art greatly. Siquerios often painted the sufferings of prison life. He too attended the San Carlos Academy, impressively he was admitted at the young age of 15. His travels to Europe brought him in contact with the artwork of Goya. The themes and images of war in their works are very similar.
David Alfaro Siqueiros “Classical art, Italian Renaissance art, and Italian Futurism also influenced him greatly. Siquerios believed that ‘art must no longer be the expression of individual satisfaction (which) it is today, but should aim to become a fighting educative art for all.’ “ (Mason)
David Alfaro Siqueiros “One cannot make a modern art with archaic techniques.... Let us live our own marvelous dynamic epoch! Let us love modern mechanics, which put us in contact with unhoped for thrills....” David Alfaro Siqueiros“Tres llamamientos de orientación actual a los pintores y escultores de la nueva generación americana” (“Manifesto to the Artists of America”), Vida Americana, Madrid, 1921 (Weser)
David Alfaro Siqueiros “Perhaps the most passionately political of Los Tres Grandes (the Big Three), as the Mexican muralists are called, David Alfaro Siqueiros was a Marxist activist whose views profoundly influenced his art. He spent time in jail for his actions fighting for the rights of laborers and the common people as a Communist party intellectual and leader.
David Alfaro Siqueiros “Siqueiros’s images chronicled and railed against injustice. They carried great emotional impact, fulfilling the artist’s attempts to empower the common people. He used foreshortening and dramatic perspectives to increase the force of his artistic compositions. The sculptural forms of his most memorable portraits derive from pre-Hispanic and Cubist influences.
David Alfaro Siqueiros “He experimented with texture, achieved with the use of materials such as encaustic (painting with a mixture of wax and pigment), Duco paint, and copal, a tree resin used for incense. He felt that murals were an important ideological expression, writing that ‘...we praise monumental art in all its forms because it is public property.’ “ (Weser)
David Alfaro Siqueiros “Student agitator, soldier, leader of an assassination squad -- Siqueiros was all of those things. Yet he is also considered one the artistic masters of the twentieth century, a member of that great Mexican school of mural painting that includes José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera.” (Tuck)
David Alfaro Siqueiros “In 1913, following the overthrow and assassination of Madero, Siqueiros conspired with a group of students and workers to unseat Victoriano Huerta, the general who had masterminded the conspiracy against Madero and now ruled as a military dictator. He joined the anti-Huerta Constitutionalist movement and contributed to its newspaper, La Vanguardia.
David Alfaro Siqueiros “After serving four years as an active combatant during the Revolution, he attained the rank of captain. In 1918, in Guadalajara, Siqueiros organized a group called the Congress of Soldier Artists. (Tuck)
David Alfaro Siqueiros “In 1919 Siqueiros went to Spain. In Barcelona, in 1921, he published a magazine called Vida Americana. Returning to Mexico in 1922, he painted his famous mural, "Los Mitos", ("The Myths") in the patio of the National Preparatory School.
David Alfaro Siqueiros “In 1923 he was elected secretary general of Mexico's Revolutionary Painters, Sculptors and Engravers Union. The following year Siqueiros, Diego Rivera and Javier Guerrero started a weekly called El Machete that was sponsored by the union. El Machete would later become the official organ of Mexico's Communist Party, (Tuck)
David Alfaro Siqueiros “In 1934 the left-wing President Lázaro Cárdenas came to power and Siqueiros was once again welcome in Mexico. The following year he headed an experimental workshop in New York. In 1936, when the Spanish Civil War broke out, he went to Spain and enlisted in the antifascist forces.
David Alfaro Siqueiros “Siqueiros served three years in Spain, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After Franco's victory in 1939, he returned to Mexico. Under the sponsorship of the Electrical Workers Union he painted another of his celebrated murals, "Portrait of the Bourgeoisie." (Tuck)
Siqueiros: Agrarian Revolution of Emiliano Zapata
David Alfaro Siqueiros “In the great Stalin-Trotsky schism that split the communist world, Siqueiros was firmly on the side of Stalin. So firmly that on in the early morning of May 24, 1940, he led an attack on Trotsky's house in Mexico City's Coyoacán suburb. (Trotsky, granted asylum by President Cárdenas, was then living in Mexico.)
David Alfaro Siqueiros “The attacking party was composed of men who had served under Siqueiros in the Spanish Civil War and of miners from his union. After thoroughly raking the house with machine gun fire and explosives, the attackers withdrew in the belief that nobody could have survived the assault.
David Alfaro Siqueiros “They were mistaken. Trotsky was unhurt and lived till August, when he was killed with a pickaxe wielded by an assassin who had wormed his way into the ex-Soviet leader's entourage by romancing one of his secretaries. (Tuck)
A Comparison “Comparison and Analysis [of the Great Three]: These three artists may not have been able to alter the history of events in the Mexican Revolution, but they were successful in creating thought provoking and emotion stirring artwork.
A Comparison “They were revolutionaries when it comes to the media of their work. The idea to paint on huge, public surfaces with political content was new. The major difference between the three was how hopeful and optimistic the messages in the paintings were.
A Comparison “If you recall, Rivera was very optimistic. He used bright colors, soft lines, and often showed the peasants and workers in a utopian setting. This hopeful out look may be related to the fact that he was out of the country during most of the revolution.
A Comparison “Orozco and Siqueiros however, were major participants in political events of the revolution and experienced its horror first hand. The work of these two is usually gruesome and done in dark colors, with harsh lines. Their work shows the stark reality of the Revolution.
A Comparison “Orozco's depiction of the ideal differs from Rivera because he separates it from a historical context. I think that Diego Rivera's work is the nicest to look at and if I were to commission one of the three muralists to paint one of the rooms in my house I would chose him.
A Comparison “However, I don't think that he was the greatest revolutionary muralist. His art was sugar coated and overly optimistic. Maybe that is why he was so popular. However, Orozco and Siquieros had a bigger impact on the public because they illustrated the true horrors of the revolution.” (Mason)
Summary "The Mexican muralists are the best example of popular art in Latin America," asserted Fernando Botero, the celebrated Colombian artist. "Their influence goes beyond mere plastic values and their importance beyond the works themselves," affirmed Mexican intellectual Luis Cardoza y Aragon. "These artists created in the Mexican people a con- sciousness of nationality. This dimension of their work is what makes them 'founders' of a truly [Latin] American art." (Winn 426)
Literature “Most authors accepted the benevolence of the state. The reason, obviously, was the poverty and illiteracy of society; just a select circle read books, short stories, or poetry and, worse still, purchased them. Given this reality, only government jobs nourished literary endeavors, which was both a plus and a minus. Not till the 1940s, furthermore, did Mexico have more than just a handful of publishers. The book merchants, who printed and sold the efforts of authors, were few. “ (Ruiz 376)
Mariano Azuela: Los de abajo “The winds of change shook the literary and artistic communities as well. A new age in the Mexican novel was born in 1915 when Mariano Azuela ( ) wrote Los de abajo (translated as The Underdogs). A classic in twentieth- century Mexican literature, Los de abajo is a social novel and marked the beginning of a trend that would last for thirty years.
Mariano Azuela: Los de abajo “Azuela was deeply concerned with the progress of the Revolution and through the character of Demetrio Macias probed its meaning. Historical novels were not new in Mexico, but Azuela added new ingredients. The story is related not in the sophisticated dialogue of the French school but in the colloquial language of the Mexican masses.
Mariano Azuela: Los de abajo “Avoiding the intrusion of secondary plots, Azuela tells the story of real revolutionaries, not those who intellectualized the movement and coined its resounding phrases. Demetrio Macias is caught up in the struggle without really knowing why, yet when confronted with complex decisions is able to make proper choices with amazing spontaneity.
Mariano Azuela: Los de abajo “Luis Cervantes, a middle-class federal deserter, joins Macias's guerrilla band and tries to articulate the revolutionary goals for him, but the uneducated Macias recognizes the shallowness and hypocrisy of Cervantes's explanations and the inherent opportunism in his actions.
Mariano Azuela: Los de abajo “The day-to-day dehumanizing realities of the Revolution are all there-pillage, looting, burning, destruction, theft, and general debauchery. Illustrative of the passion the Revolution evoked is Azuela's description of the battlefield after a struggle for control of Zacatecas:
Mariano Azuela: Los de abajo “"The three-hundred-foot slope was literally covered with dead, their hair matted, their clothes clotted with grime and blood. A host of ragged women, vultures of prey, ranged over the tepid bodies of the dead, stripping one man bare, despoiling another, robbing from a third his dearest possessions.!"
Mariano Azuela: Los de abajo “The novel ends where it began-at the Canyon of Juchilpa. Demetrio Macias, by this time a general, is killed where he first ambushed a federal convoy. The circle has been completed, and nothing has really changed. After all the suffering and killing, the Revolution seems to be back where it began.
Mariano Azuela: Los de abajo “While social programs have been shunted aside and forgotten, the Revolution has become almost self- perpetuating-it just goes on and on. Shortly before he dies Demetrio's wife asks him why he must continue fighting. He answers by tossing a rock over a precipice and responding with a beautifully appropriate metaphor: Mira esa piedra como ya no se para (Look at that rock- it just keeps rolling). “ (Meyers )
Martin Luis Guzman: El aguila y la serpiente “Azuela unlocked the gates. In 1928, Martin Luis Guzman published El aguila y la serpiente, both fiction and historical memoir.
Martin Luis Guzman: El aguila y la serpiente “A journalist by trade, Guzman, who lost no love for Carranza and Alvaro Obregon, wrote about the caudillos of the upheaval of 1910, depicting the confrontation of Villa and Carranza. His chapter on Rodolfo Fierro, the sadistic lieutenant of Villa, which he titled "Feast of the Bullets," is a chilling portrait of cruelty, lust for blood, and man's inhumanity to man.
Martin Luis Guzman: El aguila y la serpiente “For sycophants and hangers-on, the entourage of caudillos, Guzman showed no mercy. La sombra del caudillo was his unsympathetic portrait of Obregon, the national boss, and the merciless killing of Francisco Serrano. “ (Ruiz 377)
Martin Luis Guzman: El aguila y la serpiente “[Martin Luis] Guzman's disenchantment with the politics of the Revolution is even more evident in La sombra del caudillo, a novel inspired by the presidential election of 1928, which saw opposition candidates Francisco Serrano and Arnulfo Gomez both dead by election day. \
Martin Luis Guzman: El aguila y la serpiente \Mexico's most powerful novel decrying dictatorship, La sombra del caudillo is written with truculence and righteous indignation. But even here Guzman does not give up on the Revolution. To the contrary, the passionate condemnation was directed against Calles for having betrayed the ideals of the movement.” (Meyers 620)
Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes: El Indio “The Indianist novel of the Revolution reached its apex in 1935 with Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes's El Indio. Without naming a single character or place, Lopez y Fuentes is able to portray the Indian, not as the noble savage, but as a man beset with social problems that society can help to overcome.
Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes: El Indio “The plot is not intricate, as the author was more interested in atmosphere. He admirably succeeded not only in illustrating the wide chasm between Indian and white society but also in making intelligible the deepest suspicions of whites harbored in the Indian community. “ (Meyers 620)
Music Manuel Ponce
“Mexican music, too, changed its tone as a new nativist movement was introduced by Manuel Ponce ( ), a talented young pianist and composer from Zacatecas. Ponce decried that Mexican salons in 1910 should welcome only foreign music.
Manuel Ponce “He urged the acceptance of the native folk tradition and believed that the Revolution was already beginning to usher it in. In an essay he attacked the stodgy salons.
Manuel Ponce ‘Their doors remained resolutely closed to the cancion mexicana until at last revolutionary cannon in the north announced the imminent destruction of the old order.... Amid the smoke and blood of battle were born the stirring revolutionary songs soon to be carried throughout the length and breadth Of the land.
Manuel Ponce ‘Adelita, Valentina, and La Cucaracha, were typical revolutionary songs soon popularized throughout the republic. Nationalism captured music at last. Old songs, almost forgotten, but truly reflecting the national spirit, were revived, and new melodies for new corridos were composed.
Manuel Ponce ‘Singers traveling about through the republic spread far and wide the new nationalistic song; everywhere the idea gained impetus that the republic should have its own musical art faithfully mirroring its own soul.’
Manuel Ponce “Ponce was a major contributor to the movement he described. In 1912 and 1913 he composed his canciones mexicanas, including the famous Estrellita. And at approximately the same time he was training the individual destined to become the most illustrious name in twentieth century Mexican music-Carlos Chávez. “ (Meyers )
Music Carlos Chavez
“The cultural nationalism focusing on the Indian was carried into the arena of music by Carlos Chávez ( ). After studying in Europe and the United States, in his late twenties Chávez returned to Mexico to become director of the National Conservatory of Music and to begin a brilliant career as a conductor, pianist, musical scholar, and composer.
Carlos Chavez “His Sinfonia India (1935) and Xochipili-Macuilxochitl (1940) were scored for pre-Columbian instruments, but, realizing that not all performing orchestras would be able to acquire such esoteric accouterments as strings of deer hooves, he made provision for modern substitutes. But both rhythmically and melodically the compositions were inspired by Mexico's aboriginal heritage.
Carlos Chavez “Though Chávez was Mexico's most distinguished musician, he, like the muralists, wanted to reach the people, and he composed two important works, Llamadas (1934) and Obertura republicana (1935), based upon familiar Mexican tunes. “ (Meyers )
Carlos Chavez “Meanwhile, Carlos Chavez won international acclaim for his Sinjonia India and El Sol. A disciple of Manuel M. Ponce, he founded the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mexico and, as a composer, rescued from oblivion Mexico's aboriginal music and strongly influenced the music of Silvestre Revueltas and Bias Galindo, two noted composers
Carlos Chavez “Popular music, too, had its day in the sun, especially because of Maria Grever, a composer and singer whose "[urame" swept Mexico like a brushfire. Others who helped to revive it were the songwriters Guty Cardenas, Luis Martinez Serrano, Alfonso Esparza Oteo, and Jose Sabre Marroquin, as well as Alfonso Ortiz Tirado, a physician from Sonora who sang both operatic airs and romantic ballads. “ ( Ruiz 378)
Anthropology “Anthropologists led the way among social scientists in the re- definition of cultural values. With the publication in 1922 of Manuel Gamio's highly important three-volume La poblacion del valle de Teotihuacan, Mexican archeologists, ethnologists, and social anthropologists began to take a new look not only at antiquities but at contemporary Indian problems as well.
Anthropology “Rejecting theories of racial inferiority and the anti-Indian posture of many nineteenth-century intellectuals, they set out to depict the glories of the Indian past, to restore Indian arts and crafts, and in general to revitalize contemporary Indian culture. Their efforts were greatly facilitated in 1936 when the government established a Departamento Autonomo de Asuntos Indigenas and three years later the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia.” (Meyers 621)
Works Cited Mason, Kate. "Art as a mean for Social Revolution: The Socially Concious Art of Mexican Revolutionary Murals..". Wake Forest College Department of History, n.d. Web. 25 July Meyer, Michael C, Sherman, William L. The Course of Mexican History. 4 th Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, Rochfort, Desmond. Mexican Muralists: Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, Ruiz, Rámon Eduardo. Triumph and Tragedy: A History of the Mexican People. New York: W.W. Norton, Tuck, Jim. "The artist as activist: David Alfaro Siqueiros ( ).". MexConnect, n.d. Web. 25 July Weser, Marcia Goren, Jenalie Travis, and Hillary Hynek. "Zapata: Tres Visiones.". McNay Art Museum, n.d. Web. 25 July www.mcnayart.org/pdf/zapata.pdf>. Winn, Peter. Americas: The Changing Face of Latin America and the Caribbean. 3 rd Ed. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006.
Review Outline In what ways were artists and intellectuals influenced by the Mexican Revolution?
Review Outline What would be your thesis? What subtopics would you address? Do you see any unifying threads in the material? Which artists (be specific) would you choose to illustrate your argument? Which of their works (be specific) would you choose and why? Is there a counter argument that you would want to introduce?