Mexico: A Revolution In Art At The Royal Academy

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 57 months ago
Mexico: A Revolution In Art At The Royal Academy
Edward Burra
El Paseo, c. 1938
Watercolour on paper, 
Private collection
Photo Private collection / © Estate of the artist, c/o Lefevre Fine Art Ltd
Edward Burra El Paseo, c. 1938 Watercolour on paper, Private collection Photo Private collection / © Estate of the artist, c/o Lefevre Fine Art Ltd
Diego Rivera
Dance in Tehuantepec (Baile in Tehuantepec), 1928
Collection of Clarissa and Edgar Bronfman Jr.
Photo Collection of Clarissa and Edgar Brontman Jr., courtesy of Sotheby's, 
New York / © 2013  Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums 
Trust, Mexico, D.F. / DACS
Diego Rivera Dance in Tehuantepec (Baile in Tehuantepec), 1928 Collection of Clarissa and Edgar Bronfman Jr. Photo Collection of Clarissa and Edgar Brontman Jr., courtesy of Sotheby's, New York / © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / DACS
Roberto Montenegro
Mayan Women, 1926
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1941
Photo © 2013. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence
Roberto Montenegro Mayan Women, 1926 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1941 Photo © 2013. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence
José Chávez Morado, Carnaval en Huejotzingo (Carnival in Huejotzingo), 1939
Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Dr. & Mrs. Loyal Davis
Photo Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Loyal Davis
© DACS 2012
José Chávez Morado, Carnaval en Huejotzingo (Carnival in Huejotzingo), 1939 Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Dr. & Mrs. Loyal Davis Photo Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Loyal Davis © DACS 2012

Contemporary Mexican art is going strong at the moment, with the likes of Pedro Reyes and Damian Ortega putting on great exhibitions this year. But what about its art history: is there more to the last hundred years of Mexican art than just Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera?

This Royal Academy exhibition looks at a specific 30 year span starting from 1910, when the Mexican revolution ignited both a political and cultural shift. Painters from other countries also visited at this time and their works are on display alongside those of native artists.

Mexico: A Revolution In Art is a chronological show, opening with photographs of the revolution itself including propagandist posters and images of destroyed homes; there's a particularly harrowing image capturing an execution by firing squad.

The first two rooms are dominated by pictures by our favourite artist in this show, Francisco Goitia. His painting of rotting corpses hanging off trees is darkly surreal while his man sitting on a trash heap is remarkably textured.

Other highlights include Edward Burra's chaotic indoor and outdoor scenes and a searing landscape by Marsden Hartley that has managed to encapsulate the heat of the Mexican desert. The exhibition finishes off strong with a bizarre dream-like image of a cowboy confronting a calavera (skeleton) by Jose Chavez Morado.

There is only one tiny work by Frida Kahlo on display in this strong show, and yet the collection doesn't feel incomplete because of it. This is a great snapshot of art history and the variety and quality of the works on display make for a winning combination.

Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940 is on in the Sackler Wing of Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BD until 29 September. Tickets are £11, concessions available.

Last Updated 04 July 2013